Truffle is the common noun designating the fruiting bodies (sporocarps) of fungi, in the genus Tuber, whose entire life cycle takes place in the earth (subterranean). Truffles must live in symbiotic relationships with certain trees to produce the precious sporocarps. They present an external skin called peridium, which can be smooth or bumpy and of varying colours.

The inner portion (the flesh or gleba) can vary in colour, from white to black and from pink to brown, and presents veins, varying in size and branching, which define cavities containing large cells (spore sacs or ascus), which in turn bear the spores. The morphological characteristics of the peridium, gleba, ascus and spores, together with the size and the sensory characteristics, will determine the different truffle species.

Composition

Extremely highly-priced truffles are composed, for over 80%, of nothing but water. The following table shows the composition in the percentage of a Tuber magnatum (Alba white Truffle) (by Coli R., Maurizi Coli A., Granetti B., Damiani P.) and a Tuber melanosporum (black truffle).

In both truffles, the prevalent minerals are potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. The truffle’s value lies not in its nutritional value but in its ability to pleasure the consumers. It is for the same reason that market prices vary greatly from one species to another, although the chemical composition is very similar.

T. Magnatum Pico – T. Melanosportum Vitt.

Water
82,58 – 82,80
Non-protein nitrogen
0,23 – 0,14
Soluble Carbohydrates
0,36 – 0,17
Ash
1,97 – 1,70
Proteins
4,13 – 4,50
Dietary fibre
8,43 – 8,13
Total nitrogen
0,88 – 0,87
Fats
2,08 – 1,90