|Buying truffles for the first time can be quite intimidating, and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the wide variety of truffle types and varieties on the market. By taking the time to learn about how truffles are harvested, selected and graded, you will be able to get the most for your money and enjoy your first truffle shopping experience.
The first thing to keep in mind is that truffles are very much a specialty ingredient, and as such they are unlikely to be found at your local grocery store. While some upscale grocery store chains may carry a limited number of truffle products, like preserved truffles, truffle butter and truffle honey, you are unlikely to find the variety or the quality you need at your corner grocer. Instead you will want to shop at gourmet grocery stores and specialty shops, and at a number of gourmet stores like Black Star Gourmet, which offers the opportunity to conveniently buy truffles online.
When shopping for truffles it is important to know the time of year truffles are harvested will have a big role to play in the quality of palatability of the finished products. Chefs and gourmets the world over agree that winter truffles are far superior to summer varieties in both aroma and flavor, so if you can afford it be sure to choose winter white truffles and winter black truffles whenever possible.
That brings us to another important distinction in the world of truffles. These gourmet delicacies are divided – quite literally – into black and white. Black truffles have a strong flavor and an equally strong aroma, and this heady combination makes them the perfect ingredient for all kinds of dishes, including breakfast items like omelets and scrambled eggs and more high end cuisine like fresh fois gras.
White truffles, on the other hand, are best suited as a delicate garnish and a wonderful finish to a variety of dishes. The delicate flavor of white truffles makes them a wonderful topper for rich and creamy pasta dishes, as well as a number of other great recipes.
When shopping for truffles it is also important to know how these specialty items are graded. Fresh truffles are divided into three distinct grading categories – super extra, extra grade and first choice. (Read more about how to select truffles here…)
Only the best of the best fresh truffles get to wear the super extra crown, and those that do tend to be very expensive. The top 10% or so of truffles harvested are classified as extra grade, and those fresh truffles can be an excellent choice for any gourmet. The rest of the truffle harvest goes into the first choice category, and those first choice truffles can be excellent choices as well. In addition, the first choice truffles will be less costly than either super extra or extra grade, so you may find that this grade works best with your personal budget.