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How to recognise a truffle gone bad

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A truffle gone bad loses the exquisite flavour that makes it so precious: here’s how to detect those to avoid


Food of the gods, precious underground mushroom, aphrodisiac ingredient, king of the table: there are many definitions of the truffle. In fact, the truffle is a precious ingredient in the kitchen and on the table for its flavours and strong aroma. However, before you buy a truffle, you must take a good look at its characteristics and, most of all, smell its aroma, which must be intense and rich. 

To avoid running into a bad product, it is indeed necessary to know truffles well. It is therefore equally important to know how to recognise a bad truffle from a quality one. 


In fact, a bad truffle loses the precious characteristics that make it a unique ingredient.


How to tell if truffles have gone bad?

Let’s finally discover together the ways to recognise a truffle gone bad… and avoid it! 

How to recognise a truffle from its scent

Each truffle variety has its own particular scent, which makes it unique. For instance, the Precious Black truffle carries a delicate, enveloping scent, reminiscent of the undergrowth, unlike the Brumale truffle, which, on the other hand, has a stronger aroma, with distinct notes of musk, somewhat reminiscent of nutmeg.


On the other hand, the summer truffle, the truffle variety found from May to September, has a scent reminiscent of roasted barley malt, while the scent of a hooked truffle, the so-called ‘winter truffle’, is more reminiscent of hazelnuts, porcini mushrooms and grana cheese. 

And what about white truffles? The Precious White truffle has a very intense scent, with strong notes reminiscent of garlic and undergrowth, hints of hay, wet grass, and gas. In short, a unique scent, but one that not everyone likes precisely because of its intensity, and which is even more pronounced if we talk about another variety of white truffle, the Marzuolo (or Bianchetto Truffle)


Bad truffle: how to detect a truffle gone bad using your sense of smell

But what happens when the smell of the truffle starts to resemble that of ammonia? It means we are dealing with a truffle gone bad. Bad news for lovers of this hypogean mushroom who hoped to bring excellence to the table and end up dealing with an unusable product instead. 

In fact, if, despite the smell, you are tempted to try to use it anyway… don’t: instead of a delicious dish of truffle pasta, you could end up with a dish with a bad truffle, the bad taste of which would ruin the whole dish. 

The advice is to throw it away and, next time, rely on your sense of smell to recognise a truffle gone bad at the first sniff. The smell of ammonia, very strong and penetrating, is actually easily detectable even by the less experienced: at the first whiff of ammonia, then, put down the truffle you were sniffing and choose another one

Truffles gone bad: beware of gummy truffles

Texture can also help you identify a truffle gone bad. If the truffle you are testing has a hint of ammonia and also has a rubbery texture, it has definitely gone bad: abandon it without regret and turn your attention to a more deserving product. 


Indeed, a quality truffle should not have gummy or too soft parts, but neither should it be too hard. In fact, such a truffle is said to be “woody” when it has a leathery consistency, making it difficult to grate onto dishes. In this case, the truffle will also have a woody smell, which is not harmful, but certainly unpleasant.


Also be careful if you find any traces of mould in the truffle: if the consistency and smell of the truffle are still good, just brush it off and put it back in the fridge; if, on the contrary, the truffle has not only mould but also a poor consistency and an ammonia smell, it is better to discard it. 

This should also be done if small guests such as larvae are present: they are not harmful, but still indicate a truffle that should not be picked. 


To recap:


– If a truffle smells of ammonia;

– If a truffle has gummy parts;

– If a truffle has traces of mould, accompanied by poor texture and an ammonia smell;

– If a truffle has hosts such as small larvae or truffle worms;

– If, when squeezed, it is hard as a stone…


you are probably facing a truffle that has gone bad or, in any case, should be discarded: so, better to leave it where it is!


For this reason, before buying a truffle, it is necessary to be well familiar with the characteristics of the different varieties or to rely on an expert or trustworthy company, either to buy truffles at a fair or online. 


At Trivelli Tartufi we put the quality of our truffles first, to always give you the best products. Quality, reliability, professionalism: these are the words that distinguish us and for which we want to be remembered. 


In fact, every product in our shop passes strict controls: we do this to guarantee you truffles and condiments that are always of the highest quality, perfect to use in the kitchen and to serve on any occasion. 

The king of the table must always be in top form to bring its exquisite flavour in the kitchen… and with us, only the best truffles become Trivelli Tartufi!

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