truffle


truffle
truffled, adj.
/truf"euhl, trooh"feuhl/, n.
1. any of several subterranean, edible, ascomycetous fungi of the genus Tuber.
2. any of various similar fungi of other genera.
3. a candy made of soft chocolate, shaped into a ball and dusted with cocoa, or sometimes a three-layered cube of light and dark chocolate.
[1585-95; < D truffel(e) < MF truffle, truffe < OPr trufa < LL tufera, *tufer, prob. < an Osco-Umbrian cognate of L tuber TUBER1]

* * *

Edible, underground fungus in the genus Tuber (class Ascomycetes, division Mycota), prized as a food delicacy since antiquity.

Native mainly to temperate regions, truffles flourish in open woodlands on calcium-rich soil. The different species range from pea-sized to orange-sized. Truffles usually are associated with tree roots and are found up to about 1 ft (30 cm) below the soil surface. Experienced gatherers occasionally detect mature truffles by scent or by the morning and evening presence of hovering columns of small yellow flies, but more often with the help of trained pigs or dogs. The truffle is important in French cookery, and truffle gathering is an important industry in France. Truffles are among the most highly valued foods in the world. False truffles (genus Rhizopogon) form small, underground, potato-like structures under coniferous trees in parts of North America.

English truffle (Tuber aestivum).

S.C. Porter-Bruce Coleman Inc.

* * *

fungus
      edible, subterranean fungus prized as a food delicacy from Classical times. Truffles are in the genus Tuber, order Pezizales (phylum Ascomycota, kingdom Fungi). They are native mainly to temperate regions. The different species range in size from that of a pea to that of an orange.

      A section of a young specimen shows a whitish homogeneous flesh that with age becomes a rich dark colour showing a lighter marbling. Truffles flourish in open woodland on calcareous soil. They are saprophytes, usually associated with the roots of trees, possibly in a mutually beneficial association (see mycorrhiza). The spores of Tuber are large; from one to four may be seen in a spore sac, or ascus. (These, the first ascospores to be observed, were described by the French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (Tournefort, Joseph Pitton de) in 1701–11.)

      The most valued truffle in French (France) cookery is the Périgord (T. melanosporum), which is said to have first gained favour toward the end of the 15th century. It is brown or black, rounded, and covered with polygonal warts having a depression at their summit; the flesh (gleba) is first white, then brown or gray, and when mature becomes black with white veins having a brown margin. The odour is well marked and pleasant. The main French truffières (truffle grounds) are in Périgord and the département of Vaucluse, though truffles are gathered throughout a large part of France.

      The truffle industry is an important one in France, and about one-third of the gatherings are exported. The French government undertook the reforesting of many large and barren areas, for many of the best truffle regions become productive by the planting of trees, particularly oaks. Because truffles often occur at depths of up to about 30 centimetres (12 inches), it is difficult to detect them unaided. Truffles, when occurring near the surface of the ground, crack it as they reach full size, and experienced gatherers can detect them. Furthermore, in the morning and evening columns of small yellow flies may be seen hovering over a colony. Occasionally an individual is sufficiently sensitive to the scent of truffles to locate them, but truffle hunting is usually carried on with the aid of trained pigs and dogs.

      Although truffles are much desired as food, direct cultivation of truffles for commerce is difficult. Calcareous ground is dug over and acorns or seedlings planted. Soil from truffle areas is usually spread about, and the ground is kept in condition by light plowing and harrowing. After three years, clearings are made and the trees pruned. If they are to appear, truffles do so only after about 5 years; gathering begins then, but is not very profitable until 8 or 10 years have passed. The yield is at its maximum from 5 to 25 years later.

      The English truffle, T. aestivum, is found principally in beech woods. It is bluish black, rounded, and covered with coarse polygonal warts; the gleba is white when immature, then yellowish, and finally brown with white branched markings.

      Truffles are rare in North America, being found most often in Oregon and California. False truffles (genus Rhizopogon, order Boletales, phylum Basidiomycota) form small, underground, potato-like structures under coniferous trees in parts of North America.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Truffle — Truf fle (?; 277), n. [OF. trufle, F. truffe; akin to Sp. trufa, tartufo; of uncertain origin; perhaps from L. tuber a tumor, knob, truffle. Cf. {Tuber}, {Trifle}.] Any one of several kinds of roundish, subterranean fungi, usually of a blackish… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Truffle — or Truffles may refer to:* Tuber (genus), the edible truffles usually referred to when the word is used in connection with food * Chocolate truffle, a chocolate confection. * Various kinds of hypogeous fungi other than that mentioned above,… …   Wikipedia

  • truffle — edible fungus, 1590s, from M.Fr. trufle (late 14c.), from O.Fr. truffe, probably from O.Prov. trufa, metathesized from L.L. tufera (pl.), cognate of L. tuber edible root. Another theory notes It. tartuffo (Milanese tartuffel) potato, supposedly… …   Etymology dictionary

  • truffle — ► NOUN 1) an underground fungus that resembles a rough skinned potato, eaten as a delicacy. 2) a soft chocolate sweet. ► VERB (as noun truffling) ▪ hunting for truffles. ORIGIN obsolete French, perhaps from Latin tuber hump, swelling …   English terms dictionary

  • truffle — [truf′əl] n. [< Fr truffe < OIt truffa < VL * trufera < Osco Umb * tufer, for L tuber: see TUBER] 1. any of an order (Tuberales) of fleshy, edible, potato shaped ascomycetous fungi that grow underground; esp., any of a European genus… …   English World dictionary

  • truffle — [16] English acquired truffle, probably via Dutch truffel, from early modern French truffle, a derivative of Old French truffe (which survives as the modern French term for the fungus). This in turn came via Provençal trufa from a Vulgar Latin… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • truffle — [16] English acquired truffle, probably via Dutch truffel, from early modern French truffle, a derivative of Old French truffe (which survives as the modern French term for the fungus). This in turn came via Provençal trufa from a Vulgar Latin… …   Word origins

  • truffle — [[t]trʌ̱f(ə)l[/t]] truffles 1) N COUNT A truffle is a soft round sweet made with chocolate and usually flavoured with rum. 2) N COUNT A truffle is a round type of fungus which is expensive and considered very good to eat …   English dictionary

  • truffle — UK [ˈtrʌf(ə)l] / US noun [countable] Word forms truffle : singular truffle plural truffles 1) a soft chocolate sweet that often has alcohol in it 2) a fungus that grows under the ground and is very expensive to buy because people consider it a… …   English dictionary

  • truffle — noun Etymology: modification of Middle French truffe, from Old Occitan trufa, from Vulgar Latin *tufera; akin to Latin tuber swelling, truffle more at tuber Date: 1591 1. a. the dark or light edible subterranean fruiting body of several European… …   New Collegiate Dictionary