A truffle is a fruiting body from an ascomycete subterranean fungus, mostly one of the species of the family Tuberculata. Besides Tuberculata, several other genera of mushrooms are also called truffles, including Geoporus, Peziza, Chlorophyllum, Lactarius, and a hundred more. These fungi typically grow on the deciduous trees, on the stems of deciduous flowers, and on the wood of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs.
A truffle is composed of a single thick, smooth, brittle-skinned surface (Tuber) covered with a white, transparent, salty, waxy, or creamy, whitish coating. In most species of truffles, the upper surface of the mushroom is whitish or pale brown in some, the top layer has an almost transparent appearance. In some species, a dark-colored "black truffle" can be found.
The two types of truffles, the black truffles, and the white truffles are used in many recipes. Some recipes use a white truffle on top of an espresso coffee drink, while black truffles are commonly used to dress up baked desserts. In Italy, truffles have been used for centuries as a traditional Easter egg. For years, truffles were used by monks in their quest to seek enlightenment; after all, monks are known to be among the world's most ascetic people.
Truffles come in various shapes and sizes, including a single layer that grows on the surface of a mushroom, multiple layered pieces, a circle, or a square. The size of a truffle depends on the species of fungus that produces it. They range in size from less than an inch to as much as a foot in diameter.
Truffles can be bought or prepared from the ground, cut into cubes, or dried in the oven. The most popular form is a truffle with a white, fruity coating, which is often eaten raw, although a black truffle can also be eaten, in which case the white coating is light or darker and not so sweet. The black truffles, though, are often used to make desserts, such as in pies and chocolates.
Some experts say that the main reason that truffles contain trace amounts of calcium nitrate is that they are usually coated with a layer of sodium nitrate, which is an ingredient of black truffle sea salt. Truffles are said to be healthier than other mushrooms, due to their higher levels of vitamin C and protein. In addition, they are a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent damage to cell membranes, reduce free radicals, and contribute to good cardiovascular health. However, antioxidants cannot eliminate toxins without help.
Truffle salt is considered an excellent choice for diabetics. In studies conducted by scientists in the Netherlands, it was discovered that when rats were given truffles on a regular basis, their blood glucose levels were lower than those of controls. Although not a true test of its health benefits, it is possible that high doses of truffles are also good for preventing diabetes. It has been reported that the alkaloids found in truffles are also beneficial for diabetics since they inhibit insulin activity.
While there may be no need to avoid all forms of chocolate and truffles if you would like to eat them more carefully, use truffle salt instead of regular salt. You will be doing your health a great favor by doing so.
You can add truffle salt to your diet or use it as a dessert topping. If you prefer a dessert, sprinkle it over freshly baked brownies or biscuits. If you want to eat a single serving, place the truffles on crackers, or spread it on a slice of toast. It tastes good on just about everything.
You can buy truffle salt in many forms, such as powder, crystals, and pills, and the nutritional supplements sold at health food stores contain it in small quantities. It is best to avoid any product that contains high doses of sodium nitrate, since high doses may lead to high blood pressure.
Truffles should not be considered a miracle food. But the health benefits are well worth trying, especially if you are concerned about your health.