Desert Truffles

Plantación de Trufas del Desierto

The term “desert truffles” refers to some fungi species that grow in arid and semiarid climates around the world, mainly associated with plants of genus Helianthemum.

Depending on the place where they are found they receive different names (khlassi, terfez, zubaidi, fagaa, turmas or desert truffles). The most important species in the market are Terfezia and Tirmania.

Desert truffles are practically unknown in Europe, but they are popular in Arab countries, where their nutritional, gastronomic and medicinal values are highly appreciated. They are remarkable by its sweet flavor and smell, similar as mushrooms or fungi. Unlike black truffles, they are more frequently used as vegetables rather than a condiment.

Desert truffles are characterized by their high antioxidant power (which remove or inactivate toxic free radicals, which contributes to the development of diseases such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, or age-related degenerative processes), and also for its high proteins content, higher than most vegetables, and whose amino acid composition which is similar to animal proteins (can be used as a meat substitute in vegetarian diets). Also, they are healthy and low in calories and fat.

Formerly, they were used to treat ocular problems such as conjunctivitis or trachoma (typical in desert areas). Nowadays desert truffles are being studied due to its antimicrobial power, they could be evaluated as a future alternative to pharmaceuticals.