A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean fungus. It is called ‘the diamond of the kitchen’ by many. Edible truffles are held in high esteem in French, Georgian, Greek, Italian, Croatian, Middle Eastern and Spanish cooking, as well as in international haute cuisine. They look dirty and miserable, but people are going crazy about them. It’s a multi-billion dollar affair right now.
Truffles are basically mushrooms that grow in the roots of trees. Most of them grow wild with an exception of only a few that are cultivated. France is where the most craze is at. They harvest more and they eat more than others around the world.
Truffles are very profitable
Truffles are the most profitable (legal) crop you can grow. You can get up to $30,000 to $40,000 in profit per acre, once the farm starts producing truffles. Truffles can be pretty expensive. In fact, Hong Kong billionaire and father of Macau’s gambling industry, Stanley Ho, reportedly spent $330,000 on 1kg of white truffle in 2010.
How are Truffles collected ?
Pigs, trained dogs and goats are used to sniff out truffles which produce a chemical almost identical to a sex pheromone found in male pig’s saliva. Today, the truffle hunter might very well be an American twentysomething in a T-shirt working on a farm somewhere outside Portland, Oregon. Because no longer do the French and Italians have a monopoly on truffles.
Look at this chart to see if you can find them near you…
What do Truffles do ?
Some say truffles are an aphrodisiac, and that can be a good thing. But you can enjoy your guilty pleasure knowing there are antioxidants and even fiber (small amounts) in truffles. But whatever the health value they sure do taste like heaven.
The variety of Truffles
There are black “summer truffles,” whose flavor and fragrance are weaker than either white or Perigord truffles, but which can be found throughout Europe, and are often used more to enhance the visual aspects of a dish than its taste. There are Burgundy truffles, more flavorful and aromatic than summer truffles, but weaker than white and Perigord truffles, and there are bianchetto truffles, a kind of white truffle found in Italy and Spain, less expensive (about 350 euros a kilogram, or $210 a pound) and more garlicky than the white diamonds.
Some Truffle dishes to try…
Truffle chicken, Truffle pasta, truffle wanton mee, truffle meatballs, truffle fries, truffle pizza, Truffles and Egg Confit and many others. They look like they are being used as an expensive but tasty replacements to common mushrooms. Or you could try some truffle butter or even better, truffle chocolates.
How to buy Good Truffle ?
The experts believe that one can tell if a truffle is good by smell alone: it should have a slight garlicky smell mixed with a scent of honey and cut grass. It should be firm to the touch. If it’s not, it means that it’s too old. If it costs too little, be wary: if you have any doubts, consult the Truffle Market before deciding to buy. Black truffles, the more common variety, currently cost about $95 per ounce while white truffles top the charts at $168 per ounce.