Inventory, oz : 0
Pecan truffles widely range in size and appearance, averaging less than half a centimeter to as large as twelve centimeters in diameter, and have varying shapes, mostly round with a lobed, knobby nature. Clean fruiting bodies showcase variegated light brown, tan, golden, to dark brown hues, and the surface can be smooth to textured and slightly furrowed. Underneath the surface, the interior of the truffle is solid and marbled with thin, white and brown veins. The veins are light brown when young, growing darker with maturity. Pecan truffles have a firm and springy texture, and when mature, the fruiting bodies release a rich, pungent aroma with buttery, earthy undertones. The truffles should feel firm and fresh feel when ripe and will impart a nutty, decadent, and earthy flavor.
Pecan truffles are available in the late summer through winter.
Pecan truffles, botanically a part of the Tuber genus, are a category of truffles native to North America belonging to the Tuberaceae family. There are multiple species of truffles generally labeled under the Pecan name with slight genetic differences, but in terms of culinary use, the species are similar in flavor, aroma, and overall use. The most recognized Pecan truffle is classified as Tuber lyonii, and the species is sometimes labeled as the American Brown truffle. Pecan truffles have existed for centuries, but their notoriety as a culinary ingredient is a recent introduction, established only in the past few years. The truffles are ectomycorrhizal fungi meaning they form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of various trees. The fungus gives water and nutrients to the tree's roots, while the tree provides the fungus with sugars to feed off of. While this is an oversimplified explanation of the relationship between Pecan truffles and trees, the truffles are commonly found just a few inches below the surface of the soil around wild trees and cultivated trees in commercial orchards. Cultivated trees are grown in optimal environments, and the rich soils create a habitat ideal for truffles. Pecan truffles received their name from their propensity to develop beneath pecan trees. For many years, Pecan truffles were often overlooked in pecan orchards, but as scientists, growers, and culinary professionals learn more about the North American species, they are growing in popularity as a locally-sourced delicacy. Pecan truffles are currently being promoted as a secondary crop for commercial orchards and as a seasonally foraged ingredient for fungus enthusiasts. The truffles can be found in large groupings, depending on their growing environment, but care should be taken when foraging for Pecan truffles as there are several inedible look-a-likes, including False truffles, Earthballs, and Dead Man's Foot. It is always recommended to work closely with an expert when foraging.
Pecan truffles have yet to be studied for their nutritional properties. Truffles are commonly used in such small amounts that they are not considered a culinary ingredient of nutritional significance. Like truffles in Europe that have been nutritionally examined, Pecan truffles may contain small amounts of fiber to regulate the digestive tract, vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, and calcium to build strong bones and teeth. The truffles may also contain low amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin D, phosphorus, and iron.
Pecan truffles have a rich, nutty, and earthy aroma suited as a culinary enhancement. Only small portions of the truffle are needed to flavor dishes, and the aroma can also be infused into ingredients for extended use. Pecan truffles should be washed and cleaned before use, and once prepped, they can be placed in a sealed container. Try storing butter, eggs, slices of meat, or fatty nuts in the container with the truffles for a few days. Aromas from the truffle will infuse into the fat-based ingredients, and with eggs, the scent will permeate the shell and bind with the egg yolk. In addition to infusing ingredients with the aroma, Pecan truffles can be thinly sliced and shaved over dishes as a finishing element. The truffle's flavor complements cream or butter-based pasta dishes, and they add a rich, umami-like nuance to cooked potato, squash, or rice-based dishes. When cooking, it is not recommended to add the truffles during high-heat preparations as the temperatures will destroy the truffle's rich aroma. For a fresh, simple, but decadent recipe, try Alana McGee from Truffle Dog Co.'s recommendation to slather freshly toasted bread in butter and shave a few slices of Pecan truffles on top. Sprinkle some salt and then drizzle with honey to create an aromatic and balanced snack. Pecan truffles should be eaten within one week for the best quality and flavor. The fruiting bodies generally last for 3 to 5 days when stored in a container with paper towels to absorb excess moisture and kept in the refrigerator. Depending on the individual truffle, some may be able to last for up to three weeks, but the aroma is lost with time. Using truffles immediately after harvest will provide the best eating experience.
Truffle Dog Co. advocates for locally grown truffles and is a leader in the conversation surrounding North American truffles. The multi-faceted company promotes the story of truffles through education and training programs, truffle distribution, and culinary tourism. Truffle Dog Co. partners closely with scientists, food and beverage professionals, professors, and growers to disseminate information about the truffles that are being locally cultivated in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Pecan truffles are one of the most recent introductions into the culinary scene, and Truffle Dog Co. hopes more chefs and home cooks will become familiar with the truffle and incorporate it into their dishes. Beyond promoting Pecan truffles and other fungi found in the Pacific Northwest, Truffle Dog Co. is famous for its dynamic truffle dog training program. The company trains all types of dog breeds to seek out truffles, and the program works closely with truffle enthusiasts via zoom training and in-person meetings. It takes several years for dogs to become professional hunters, but the introduction of dogs has helped create a sustainable way to harvest the underground delicacies. Historically, pigs were used to find truffles in Europe, but once found, hunters had difficulty stopping the pigs from eating the truffles. It was discovered that dogs could detect the aromas of the truffles, and they were much easier to handle in the forest compared to large and heavy pigs. Dogs also only detect the scent emitted from ripe truffles, allowing hunters to gather ready-to-eat ones, leaving unripe truffles in the soil undisturbed.
Pecan truffles are native to North America and have been hunted by wild animals since ancient times. Ripe Pecan truffles release pheromones and pungent scents to attract small mammals, and as the animals consume the fungi, spores are released through their excrement, spreading the species. Pecan truffles are typically found a few inches below the soil's surface; some may even partially appear above ground if the soil is moved. The fungi traditionally grow at the base of pecan trees and are also found in the roots of hickories, hazelnuts, chestnuts, oaks, and basswood trees. Pecan truffles are native to a large region spanning from Quebec, Canada, south to Northern Mexico. In the United States, the truffles are localized to regions east of the Rocky Mountains, with concentrated populations in Georgia and Florida. It was in the mid-1980s that Pecan truffles were extensively studied by scientists and plant pathologists. University of Georgia professor and plant pathologist Dr. Tim Brenneman is credited with spearheading the study when he found the fungus growing in commercial pecan orchards in South Georgia. Several other experts contributed to the study of Pecan truffles, notably mycologist Dr. Richard Hanlin. Professor and Dr. James Trappe, and pathologist Matthew Smith. Through their research, new species were discovered within the Pecan truffle category, and it was determined that commercial Pecan trees could be inoculated with spores before they are planted to encourage the expansion of the truffle harvest. Dr. Brenneman and others are still evaluating the cultivation and collection of Pecan truffles as a secondary source of income for growers, and as demand for truffles rises among culinary professionals, more growers are seeking to understand the local species. Pecan truffles have only gained the attention of the culinary industry in the mid-21st century, and the local truffles are increasing in value as a rare delicacy to enhance the dining experience. The Pecan truffles featured in the photograph above were sourced through Truffle Dog Co., and the company acquired the truffles from a farm in North Carolina.