Two main types of truffles in the world
Truffles are fungi that grow underground and are eaten throughout much of the world. They are similar to mushrooms but instead do not have caps or stems. Many people believe that these fungi grow beneath the surface in order to stay away from drought, fires, and cold temperatures. Whatever the reason may be, truffles are often seen as a culinary gem, with the option of either white or black. Of the two types, white truffles are the most delicate. Generally, they are served raw as they cannot withstand much heat. Black truffles are a bit more coveted and known as "black diamonds." They usually have a more earthy fragrance and can add an abundance of flavor when included in recipes. There is a wide variety of both white and black truffles.
The noble truffles in the world
The Tuber magnatum pico or White Alba Truffle, and Tuber melanosporum, the black Périgord truffle, are regarded as the best truffles. The Black Périgord is primarily found in France between November 15th and March 31st. Because these are the most desired truffle, some growers have attempted to plant them in other regions of the world. Australian growers claim to have recreated the fungi and harvest them in May, June, and July. Many other black truffles can be found in Italy including the Burgandy Truffle, Black Summer Truffle, and Muscat Truffle. Black truffles can also be found in China, Spain, and the U.S. The Oregon black truffles grow in Oregon, California, Vancouver Island, and British Columbia and are gathered between November and March.
The rare Alba Truffles are harvested primarily in northern Italy although some can be found in parts of central Italy and southern France. Alba truffles are gathered between October 1st and December 31st. The White Spring Truffle and Tartufo di San Miniato are also found in Italy. In Oregon, the Oregon Winter White Truffles are harvested from January to April, while Oregon Spring White Truffles are collected between June and July. Both black and white truffles are harvested around the world with the majority of them found in France. The country produces over 30 tons of truffles annually.
The cost of truffles
As one of the most expensive foods around the globe, truffles can be quite costly. The price for the fungi often starts at $1,000 per pound and goes up from there. The high price comes from how valuable the truffles are considered to be. Many of the most desired types are quite rare and can be difficult to find since they grow underground and cannot be seen. The most costly of the fungi usually grow 4-5 underground, while all are attached to trees. Oak trees are the most common tree for truffles to grow with although they are also found with chestnut, beech, and hazelnut trees.
Since they cannot be seen, pigs have been used to scout the fungi for many years. Once the pigs sniff out the truffles, they are swapped out for trained dogs since the pigs are more likely to eat the fungi. Many times, it takes thousands of workers and animals to find truffles, which is a large component in the high price tag.
The value of the truffles
Once harvested, truffles need to be consumed within a few days. To keep them as fresh as possible, special packaging and expedited shipping are required, which increases the cost. The quality of the fungi is another factor in value. Truffles with the least flaws, rounder shape, and strong aromas are priced the highest with weight as another price component. The seasonality of truffles plays a part in the value, as well as the rarity of the fungi. Global warming, growing populations, and disheveled woods have also contributed to the value of truffles. These factors have greatly impacted the truffle population making their value grow. Truffles have been consumed for well over 2,000 years. The fungi are high in minerals, low in fat, and are quite healthy. Their rarity, difficulty to harvest, short shelf-life, and the desire for them across the globe all play a part in their value. While it's extremely unlikely that prices will drop, truffles will surely continue to be craved for years to come.