Tips on buying summer truffles:
- Christopher Poron of Plantin says the truffle should be devoid of dirt so that you pay for the price of the actual truffle and you can see what you are getting. The dirt plays no role in conserving flavor and freshness.
- It should be dark on the outside and white to a light tan color on the inside. The truffle should be firm, not rubbery, and smell earthy.
- Ask for the purveyor to canifé (make a small slice into) the truffle so you can take a look inside.
- Chef Sylvain Portay of The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco says, "Summer truffles should be the size of a golf ball, with few imperfections. The truffle should be firm, with no soft spots (soft truffles often have worms).
Tips on storing summer truffles:
- Chef Portay recommends brushing them with a soft, slightly dampened bristled brush to remove excess soil. Then wrap each truffle individually with dry paper towel, layer them in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator (walk-in). He also notes that some chefs store truffle in uncooked rice or whole eggs to absorb the flavor. However this storage system is used most often with the more fragrant winter truffles, which have a stronger flavor.
- Rocco DiSpirito suggests never preserving them because they do not release the powerful juices that the winter truffle does and they are not as good cooked. Chef DiSpirito says to store summer truffles for a minimal amount of time, and they are really best used immediately. Cryovac (seal) them or wrap them individually in damp towels to prevent them from releasing too much of their natural juices. He also says not to store any truffle in rice for the same reason.
Tips on preparing summer truffles:
- To maintain their delicate flavor, Chef Portay shaves them on top of hot pasta or risotto, eggs (poached, scrambled, etc.), or crushed and mixed with vinaigrette for a delicate texture and flavor.
- Chef DiSpirito also shaves the raw summer truffle on top of his dishes to best taste the mild truffle flavor and texture. When cooking with summer truffles, he suggests not cooking them too much.
- Michael Smith of The American Restaurant in Kansas City confirms the importance of knowing how to use the summer truffle: "About six years ago we realized that we weren't using them the right way…Once we figured that out, we really like using it, plus it adds another selling point to a dish." He usually serves them raw, but if he does cook them he gently warms them in a bain-marie with olive oil, salt & pepper and stock.
- Christopher Poron from Plantin suggests to simply shave them on to a plate with a good dousing of extra virgin olive oil and season with coarse salt. A very tasty snack.