Creating a Life of Plenty

The Fungus Among Us!


Today was not the morning to get out in the garden, but I did manage to check on the greenhouse beds and ensured that nothing was damaged by the very unseasonable snow we had thanks to a Noreaster and compliments of Hurricane Sandy.  I hope that all my friends on the east coast get through this ordeal in tact and well!

I also wanted to share with you a marvelous gift from a friend of mine.  My friend Angie from high school bought some truffle oil and truffle salt products but just didn’t develop a taste for them so she decided to share them with me; I adore truffles!  A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean mushroom; spore dispersal is accomplished through fungivores, animals that eat fungi. Almost all truffles are ectomycorrhizal and are therefore usually found in close association with trees. The black summer or burgundy truffle is found across Europe and is prized for its culinary value. Two varieties are distinguished within this species: burgundy truffles, harvested in autumn until December, and summer truffles, harvested in summer, whose flesh is of paler color and whose aroma is less pronounced.

Truffles grow wild associated with different trees and conditions in Europe, but they are also cultivated in many parts of the world by planting and maintaining specialize groves of trees and inoculating them with the spores required to begin the mitocultural process.

Historically, these treasures were hunted by swine in France and other parts of Europe, but the pigs actually liked to eat the treasures so now they are hunted by specially trained dogs who can capture the scent, but have no interest in eating the truffle.

Prized for their culinary use, they are shaved into food (roasted meats, pasta, etc.)as well as made into multitudes of products from the salt and oil that I mentioned to butter, pate and cheese!

I mixed a little with honey and drizzled it over granny apple slices with brie and candied walnuts. You can also make a salad dressing out of it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey.  The other night I made truffle mashed potatoes with the salt and a bit of the oil.  This week I plan to make some fresh pasta and add a splash of the oil to the pasta after cooking (The trick is not to “cook” with it–the high heat will destroy the flavor). Drizzle it over a prepared dish just before it goes to table.

Really, you can put it on just about anything and it will be delicious. Truffle oil is wonderful, so THANK YOU, to my wonderful friend!


Happy Gardening!

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