The black winter truffle, scientific name Tuber Brumale Vittadini, is a variety of black truffle that has many similarities with the prized black truffle, although it differs in value and less appreciable organoleptic qualities. Also known as Trifola Nera, the winter truffle is characterised by its strong and persistent aroma that makes it ideal as a condiment for first and second courses. This species also includes a variant known as Moscato Truffle, known for its unique and unmistakable aroma.
In external appearance, the winter truffle is easily confused with the prized black truffle, exhibiting a brownish black peridium covered with small warts; compared to its prized cousin, the warts are lower and wider, less pointed. The shape is rounded, with a variable number of hump-shaped irregularities. The most conspicuous differences with the prized black truffle are found in the gleba: the winter truffle has a greyer flesh with sparser, less fine veins. The size varies from two to ten centimetres.
The scent is undoubtedly the prominent characteristic of the black winter truffle. The smell is intense, strong and persistent, with musky and undergrowth notes. In the nutmeg variant, the winter truffle takes on an even more distinctive scent, reminiscent of the aroma of nutmeg.
The strong character of the winter truffle is also found in its flavour, which is just as strong and intense as its aroma. The persistent tones make it ideal for those who like strong, defined aromas.
The black winter truffle, as its name suggests, reaches full maturity during the colder months, specifically between December and March. In Italy, harvesting is allowed during this period.
The black winter truffle is a very versatile species and can be found in different habitats. It ripens in both calcareous and clay soils, at average altitudes ranging from 400 to 1000 metres; it prefers shady, not too hot, even slightly humid positions. For these reasons, it is not uncommon to find it in coniferous forests. Geographically, the winter truffle grows in almost all of Italy, finding fertile ground in almost all regions and in particular in Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo, Molise and Lazio. Outside our country, the winter truffle is found throughout Europe.
Given its great versatility, the winter truffle is able to enter into symbiosis with many different plant species, from broad-leaved trees to conifers.
The most common mycorrhizae include:
- Plants of the oak family such as Holm oak, turkey oak and downy oak
- Black and white hornbeam
- Lime tree
- Conifers such as black pine and cedar
The black winter truffle is a low-value and widespread truffle species, two characteristics that inevitably push prices down. Winter truffle prices tend to be around half of those of the prized black truffle, between €25 and €35 per hectare. Just like the summer truffle, the winter truffle is also scarcely cultivated in truffle farms, as its low commercial value makes such an investment unattractive.
In short about the black winter truffle
Average weight: 8-200 g
Dimensions: 2-10 cm
When to find it: between December and March
Where to find it: Almost all over Italy and Europe
Symbiotic plants: Holm oak, downy oak, hornbeam, linden, hazel, rockrose, black pine and cedar
Prices: between 25 and 35 € / hectare