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Summer Truffles vs Winter Truffles

Slofoodgroup Team March 04, 2023

If you are delving into the world of truffles for the first time, you could be surprised by the vastness of varieties of this underground fungi. Confusion might be piled onto the surprise when you learn that each individual variety is known by several different names and some references—like “summer” and “winter”  are used interchangeably between species. Don’t let it overwhelm you. In this post, we will lay the groundwork for understanding summer vs winter truffles. 

What is the Difference Between Summer and Winter Truffles?

“What is the difference between summer and winter truffles” is a question that asked quite frequently and it’s one we are going to answer, in depth, in this article. Before we dig too deeply into this topic, though, we need to clarify that the various types of truffles span far beyond just “summer” and “winter” and if you want to be sure of what you are getting, you should find out what the actual species of truffle it is, how recently it was harvested, and how it was preserved until it reached you. 

Other Names for Summer and Winter Truffles: 

In most instances, when folks speak of summer truffles, they are referring to tuber Aestivum, but there is a bit more variability in referencing when a tuber is called a winter truffle. Some folks use winter to describe black perigord truffles (tuber Melansporum), others to as a synonym for the brumale truffle (tuber Brumale), and lesser often, the alba white truffle (tuber Magnatum). 

Seasonality of Summer and Winter Truffles: 

As you may have already guessed, the difference between summer and winter truffles is based in seasonality. Summer truffles are harvested in the spring and summer months in mild climates, whereas winter truffles are harvested in the fall and winter months. A notable consideration is that some folks will also speak of autumn truffles, whereas others will just put them under the winter truffle terminology umbrella. The Burgundy truffle is one such variety that has dual seasonality between fall and winter and is referenced by both seasons. 

What do Summer and Winter Truffles Have in Common?

Regardless of when they were harvested, truffles are some of the most highly sought-after fungi in the world and prized, traditionally prized in French and Italian cuisine, but spanning the globe and interjecting into the world of culinary fusion. All truffles are known for their earthy, nutty flavors and aromas, but there are some key differences between that em and the weather conditions they face when growing and being harvested deeply impact their flavor and potency. 

What are the Flavor Differences Between Various Types of Summer and Winter Black Truffles? 

Tuber Aestivum (Summer Truffle)

Compared to the winter varieties of black truffle, tuber Aestivum is very mild in flavor, with notes reminiscent of mild nuts and light cheese. It is perfect for when you want a subtle truffle flavor without overpowering a dish. Because of its subtleties, this truffle is best used raw with simplistic, lighter dishes.

Tuber Melansporum (Winter Truffle)

These winter truffles are extremely prized for their depth in flavor (though not quite to the extreme of wild foraged white truffles). They are earthy, with notes of cacao, garlic, and pepper.  The muskiness of these truffles provides a stand-out flavor that positions them to be the star of any dish. Unlike the summer truffle, Perigord truffles can withstand a slight application of heat without losing their flavor. 

Tuber Brumale (Winter Truffle)

These truffles have very similar flavor components as the Perigord truffle but they are far less intense. Their umami component positions them perfectly for developing preserved truffle products, such as vegan pâté, truffle oil, and truffle butter. It is also perfectly acceptable for shaving directly over dishes, but like the summer variety of  tuber Aestivum, it does not withstand heat well. 

Regardless the type of truffle you choose, you can't go wrong! Check out our full line of summer and winter truffles in our online ingredient shop.