“Black truffle” can mean anything, including something flavorless or with a garlic aroma. Buy only from a trusted dealer. If it’s a bargain, it may be a scam. The Burgundy truffles shaved onto the quenelles in the lobster bisque, above, add visual appeal (“ooh, truffles!) but not a huge amount of flavor (photo © Payard | NYC).




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KAREN HOCHMAN is the Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.




December 2006
Last Updated August 2023

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Vegetables

Types Of Truffles: A Glossary

Page 6: Black Truffles


This is Page 6 of a 12-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages. See all of our delicious food glossaries.


Truffle Glossary: Black Truffles, The Fabulous Fungi Of France
(With Some In England, Italy & Spain)


There are two great truffles. Tuber melanosporum, the black Périgord truffle, and Tuber magnatum pico, the white Alba truffle. The others here, lesser truffles, can still be tasty; they’re just not a celestial experience worth $1,000 or $2,000 a pound. They lack both the incredible aroma and the intense flavor.


In an attempt to expand the availability of Tuber melanosporum vitt., the Périgord black truffle, growers around the world have been planting nursery tree seedlings inoculated with the fungus in regions around the world. Australia has finally grown the same species of truffle, with claims that it has the same aroma intensity and flavor profile. If that’s true, the good news is that it’s half the price of the Périgord truffle. Plus, since Australia’s seasons are opposite those above the equator, Europe, “Perigord” truffles from Australia are available in May, June, and July, to complement stocks in November, December, and January from Périgord, France.

Manjinup Australian Melanosporum Truffle
Tuber melanosporum vitt, the Périgord black truffle, is also grown in Australia (photo © Truffle Melbourne).

Manjimup truffles are the name given to the Melanosporum truffles grown around the town of Manjimup, Western Australia. Victorian black winter truffles, corresponding to Burgundy black winter truffles (Tuber uncinatum), are grown in the state of Victoria in Southeast Australia. Bianchetto white truffles, a small white truffle variety, are also grown in Victoria.



This is an unspecific term. If someone is marketing it as such, it is most likely not the Périgord truffle, or it would be promoted as such. It could be the glorious Périgord truffle, a lesser Bourgogne or Brumale truffle, or even a Chinese truffle* or Oregon black truffle.



Tuber Uncinatum Chatin the Bourgogne (Burgundy) truffle. See the next listing.




*Very bland, with no real truffle flavor or aroma.



Italian Black Truffle

The Italian black truffle (photo © Chevoo).



The Bourgogne truffle (pronounced boor-GUN-yuh), Tuber uncinatum chatin, is closely related to the Summer Black Truffle, Tuber aestivum. It is harvested in the Dordogne between October 1st and December 31st and has a chocolate smell and taste. It is perhaps the second-best truffle in France, after the Périgord truffle. It is black with large, pointed warts that form in a diamond; the flesh is a chocolate-brown color. It grows in clay soil in woods under broad-leaved trees. It should be used raw, like white truffles; heat dissipates the flavor and aroma. It is popularly used in appetizers, eggs, meat and fish dishes, and pasta and pâté.




The Bourgogne, Burgundy or Uncinatum truffle (photo © d’Artagnan).

Tuber brumale (pronounced broo-MAHL) is harvested between November 1st and March 15th on the same sites as the Périgord truffle. Unfortunately, before it is washed (then, you can see that the polygon mosaic surface, called the peridio, is less well-defined), Tuber brumale can look a lot like the Périgord truffle both outside and inside†. In the scam category, it can be sold to the unwary as such. But, caveat emptor: Instead of the amazing earthy aroma of the Tuber melanosporum, the Périgord truffle, Brumale is much less developed, lacking the heavenly complexity of Melanosporum. It also lacks the celestial aroma: One variety, the musk brumale, smells of turnip nuanced with garlic and tastes very peppery and characteristically turnip-like. It sells for half the price of the Périgord truffle. Our suggestion: Save your money and wait for a fresh Périgord truffle. Don’t buy rump roast when you want to know what wagyu tastes like.


Brumale Truffle

The Brumale looks like a Périgord truffle on the outside, but a look at the pale glebe (inside) shows that it isn’t (photo © Grafvision | iStock Photo).

†The glebe tends to be lighter, with more pronounced veins.



The most famous and desirable black truffle in the world is the winter black truffle from the Périgord (pay-ree-GORE) region of France, Tuber melanosporum vitt., more famous as the Périgord truffle or “truffe du Périgord” and Tartufo nero pregiato. Called the queen of truffles (or the princess, by the writer Colette), it is found in southern France, and in some parts of Spain and Italy. Depending on the region, it reaches maturity between November 15 and March 31: The height of maturity in Périgord is January. It grows four to five inches underground, generally in oak forests; its appearance is black with a skin that has been called both pyramid-warty and diamond-like. The flesh ranges from chocolate brown to nearly black with delicate white veining. The aroma and taste are earthy—of forest undergrowth, damp earth, and roasted dry fruits—and it has a long and memorable aftertaste. It is worth its weight in gold, and then some. At $1,000 to $2,100 per pound retail, it is nicknamed “black diamonds” due to the combination of the faceted skin (a striking mosaic of interlocking polygons) and its high price. The flesh ranges from chocolate to nearly black with delicate white veining. The aroma and flavor are intoxicating and uniquely melanosporum.

Tuber melanosporum vitt., the Périgord black truffle. Photo courtesy Sabatino Tartufi. Below, you can see the unmistakable dark glebe (inside) that is unique to this variety (photo © Caviar Russe).


Unfortunately, the price is likely to go higher: Since the late 19th century, Périgord’s truffle crop has been declining and is estimated to be just 5% of what it was over a century ago. The French resisted the thought of cultivating the truffle, but recent scientific advances have led to inoculating the roots of traditional host trees, that are being tested in hospitable environments around the world. Melanosporum is also found in Italy, in the region of Norcia in Umbria, and large crops are grown in central Spain.


Tuber Melanosporum Vitt is popularly used in appetizers, eggs, meat and fish dishes, and pasta and pâté.



The summer black truffle, Tuber aestivum vitt, is found in southern France, Spain, southern England (where it is also known as the English truffle), and Italy. It tends to be larger and tougher than the Melanosporum, has a smoother surface and a lighter interior, or glebe, often as white as in the photo at the right. It has a taste of forest mushrooms and a subtle aroma of “underwood” or underbrush; not as pungent and aromatic as the black winter truffles but nice in salads and as a flavoring element in sauces and soups. Its season is May 1 through September 30. Most black truffle-based products (truffle butter, truffle oil, truffle paste) use the summer black truffle. It is used in appetizers, meat or fish, eggs, pasta dishes, pizza (both as a topping and in the crust), or a filling for homemade pasta dough, ingredients for pizza, bread, wraps, and dry pasta.  It’s also used as a holiday accent in burrata.

There are other truffles that grow throughout France, but like most other truffles found in temperate, moist regions throughout the world, they are without much flavor and aroma, and not worth the expense. Wild mushrooms, commonly available and very affordable, provide much more enjoyment.


Continue To Page 7: Truffle Glossary ~

Black Truffles, Continued


Go To The Article Index Above

  Summer Truffle
The summer black truffle, Tuber aestivum, has a smooth surface and a lighter interior, or glebe (photo © Kelly Cline | iStock Photo). Below, summer truffles shaved onto pappardelle (photo © David Burke | Fromagerie Restaurant).





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