Summer truffles, (Tuber Aestivum) also known as Black Summer Truffles, refer to a truffle variety that grows in Southern Europe (France, Italy, Spain) and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary) between the months of April and August. They have a light and delicate aroma and flavor which explains that they are the most affordable variety of truffles. They are often described as nutty, creamy and sweet.
Summer truffles are black on the outside as their skin is dark and coarse, however they are not to be mistaken with Black Truffles which refer to the superior variety of Winter Truffles (Tuber Melanosporum) also known as Perigords. Many people, including restaurants, fail to mark this distinction on menus, which is very misleading to the consumer. Summer Truffles have a light hue on the inside, the flesh varies between white, cream color, light brown and dark brown, often depending on the stage of the season (the later into the season the darker they become). They are also sometimes described as White Summer Truffles which is another inaccurate name because of the allusion to White Winter Truffles, also a much superior grade. If you are at a restaurant and the menu mentions Black Truffles with no further specification, you should always ask if they are Winter or Summer Truffles, as the latter should not justify a steep price.
There are mainly two ways you can go with summer truffles, let’s call the first one the “classic style” since this is what many restaurants choose to do. This method consists in using summer truffles more like a garnish than an actual ingredient. The pros? You only need a small amount of fresh truffles and a good truffle oil and it’s very easy. The cons? This is not the most adventurous way to use Summer Truffles. Create a simple dish like truffle pasta, truffled eggs or truffle risotto using Black Truffle Oil. We recommend Black Truffle Oil and not white because it is more delicate and black winter truffles are closer to summer truffles in taste, they also share the same terroir as they very often grow in the same areas. Simply shave fresh truffles on top of your dish to add dimension in both taste and visual. Now moving on to the second option that we can call ”Purist Style” and is all about staying as true as possible to the subtle taste of Summer Truffles. This is a route that many Michelin starred chefs choose to take, it’s not as simple because it requires more creativity and research to find ingredients that will pair beautifully with Summer Truffles and adorn their flavor instead of overpowering it. But you got this! Dishes that do not require cooking the ingredients such as crudos, tartares or even salads work best for the “Purist Style” Summer Truffle recipes as they will allow for the flavors to come through. Plus, these lighter types of dishes are more “summery” and therefore in tune with the seasonality of the product. The idea is to skip truffle-infused products and embrace the fresh, nutty and buttery aspect of Summer Truffles. If you still want a hint of that classic umami-packed black winter truffle flavor, you can still top your dish with a small amount of Truffle Salt, which will tease deep earthy notes without covering the taste of the fresh Summer Truffles.