The “truffle” is the fruiting form of an ascomycete (subterranean ascomycetes) fungus, primarily one of the family Trichophyton. Most of these fungi belong to Geopera, Pezizamia, and several others, but other genera such as Leucangium and several others are also classed as truffles. The most well-known and widespread truffle variety, however, is the black truffle. This variety has been used for centuries in many cuisines, but not until very recently has it been explored as a medicinal product.
The Trichophyton species all share a basic structure. They have spore-like structures that contain a wide variety of chemical agents that help them to grow rapidly, usually at a much higher rate than other fungi. They are able to change these growth rates by changing the amount of nitrogen or phosphorous they use. When they reach maturity, the spore-like structures are expelled from the cell. The process of respiration produces heat as well, causing the mushroom to grow rapidly.
As with most other mushrooms, the black truffle contains a number of essential proteins. These proteins are responsible for producing the distinctive flavour and aroma associated with this particular mushroom, so it makes perfect sense that some of these protein molecules are also present in the salt. The salt in question is actually the tennis version of truffles that have been treated with an oxidizing agent.
Oxidizing agents such as sulphur compounds, a type of oxygenating gas like ozone, are commonly used in the field of medicine because they can be used to kill or reduce the number of harmful organisms. In this case, sulphur compounds help to speed up the metabolic rate of the truffle. In a way, the sulphur compounds actually act as antioxidants, helping to eliminate free radicals and other harmful substances that cause oxidative damage.
Sulfur compounds are also very useful as preservatives in a variety of industries. In fact, they are used to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables for a long period of time. This preservation method is commonly called “acidification”.
The use of sulphur compounds as preservatives and as a source of antioxidants may be surprising, but this is the main reason why the black truffle salt has become so popular in recent years. Although not all sulphur compounds work equally well, the ones that do are effective are highly useful for preserving these mushrooms.
When used as a truffle salt, sulphur compounds are a combination of two substances that are able to work together in a special process that reduces the amount of sulphur dioxide produced when they are dried, resulting in a very stable salt that can retain the original flavour and fragrance of the mushrooms. These two chemicals also give the salt its ability to maintain its colour, ensuring that it is a very long-lasting preservation medium.
The properties of this salt make it very similar to the truffle produced in Switzerland, the Caccardi, which has an orange and pink colour that is made from a variety of mushroom spores that has an identical level of sulphur compounds. Because this truffle can be preserved in this way, it is very similar in appearance to white truffles. The difference between the two is only cosmetic black truffle salt is white and its appearance can be compared with other mushrooms.
Another important factor in the development of this kind of salt was that the saffron strands that are added to the salt are extremely strong and resistant to oxidation. This allows the salt to be able to preserve both the original colour and fragrance of the mushrooms without the loss of any of its nutrients or value.
It is very important for saffron to remain as fresh as possible because the longer it is kept, the higher its value will be. As sulphur to oxidize, saffron will lose its original colour, flavour and aroma and its medicinal benefits. This is one of the reasons why saffron is only used in a preservation process where it will not undergo oxidation.
Saffron strands added to truffle salt are not only beneficial in this process because they add moisture and salt to a product that is usually dry, but also because they increase the volume of the fungi by allowing more growth of the mushrooms. It can be eaten alone as a savoury dish or mixed with wine.