A truffle, also called nori, is a round mushroom that has a hardy seed inside it. It grows in Japan, where it is revered as the national treasure. It was first mentioned in the 7th century by Chinese geographer Tao Lao. The name means "bitter stone".
A truffle is actually the outer fruiting body of ascomycetous fungi, primarily one of the genus of the family called Scallops. There are about 2021 species of scallops worldwide, including the popular truffle. Most are harvested fresh and dried, but the black truffle, which is a species not widely collected, is dried and sold as a salt. In addition to the Tuber and Leucidus, several other genera of mushrooms are also classified as truffle, including Geopora, Peziza, Choiromyces, and more than a hundred others. The common name for this fungal spore is Geocarpum scalare.
Truffles are rich in carotene, vitamin C, iron, and a variety of other antioxidants. In fact, they are considered to be one of nature's richest sources of nutrition. This is in stark contrast to sea salt, which is low in minerals. While the benefits of black truffles are well known, the two are often confused.
Sea salts and Epsom salts both contain trace minerals. Sea salts are used in baking, while Epsom salts are used in pickles, chowders, and fried foods. While many may associate black truffle salt with high-quality French truffles, the truth is that this is simply not the case. Most sea salts and Epsom salts are harvested in the Mediterranean and shipped to various retailers all around the world.
Truffle salt is most often harvested from the stems of jalapeno plants. This is because it readily responds to heat. When this happens, the plant dries up, leaving behind small, dry spongy seeds. Harvesting the seeds of truffles is difficult because the seeds are very fragile. They are even harder to store when they are fresh.
In order to preserve the freshness of truffle salt, some manufacturers place it in a can or bottle and use canning methods. This prevents the seeds from drying out and therefore preserves the flavor of the truffle for years. In addition, canning techniques remove any excess moisture that may have gathered on the exterior of the package. When truffles are stored in glass bottles, they must be allowed to air dry to be sure that the salt does not become rancid before being eaten. Once you have purchased your truffle oil, you should let it sit at room temperature to lock in its flavor.
Like other premium spices, truffle salt contains a high amount of iodine. This contributes to its unique flavor as it contains trace amounts of magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and selenium. Trace amounts of these minerals are found in many common foods and beverages, but the minerals in truffle salt add a delightful hint of flavor to your favorite dishes. The zinc and iron found in truffle salt also contribute to heart health. The magnesium content helps to improve digestion and the mineral selenium helps to prevent atherosclerosis.
The cost of truffle salt will vary depending on where you purchase it. Today, consumers can find great-tasting truffles at cafes, specialty stores, supermarkets, and even some internet sites. You can make your own truffle salt by buying a large bag of crystals from an online retailer and crushing them. If you choose to crush your own crystals, be sure to use unsalted ones, which will retain more of the natural flavor of truffles. For added flavoring, try sprinkling some truffles on top of your favorite baked dessert or after baking bread and crackers.