Black Diamond Of The Kitchen: What Are Truffles And Why Are They So Expensive?

Truffles belong in the world of culinary delicacies. Truffles are edible spores that grow on an underground fungus. This may not sound delicious, nor does the appearance of truffles look very appetizing — something like a black potato or rock. However, truffles are much loved in gourmet cuisine for their musky, meaty and earthy flavour. For centuries, truffles were found exclusively in European countries like Spain, Italy and France, where they grow in the wild, reports Smithsonian Magazine. However, over the past 50 years, truffle production has gone through an incredible global expansion, thanks to cultivation techniques giving opportunity for plantations in regions like the United States, China, Greece, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Argentina.

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What Do Truffles Taste Like?

Truffles have a deep and strong aroma. Truffles taste and smell somewhat oaky, nutty, and earthy with savoury notes. These truffles are also used to make truffle oil, made by infusing extra virgin olive oil with truffles. This oil is used as a finishing oil in dishes like truffle fries, pasta dishes, pizzas, mashed potatoes and deviled eggs.

Are Truffles And Mushrooms The Same?

Truffles and mushrooms are both members of the fungi kingdom. However, mushrooms grow above ground while truffles grow underneath the surface.  Truffles are also seasonal, extremely rare, and difficult to find and cultivate, compared to other mushroom varieties.

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How To Best Enjoy Truffles

Truffles are generally used to finish a dish. Chefs use a truffle shaver and add these shaved, raw truffles over warm dishes. The aroma compounds of truffles are oil soluble, which is why it’s best to serve them with dishes that have eggs, butter, cream, or cheese.

Here’s What Makes Truffles So Expensive

You can also buy truffles in India. Only 25 g truffles cost around Rs. 1400. Truffles grow underground in wild forests. Even if they are cultivated, they require extreme levels of high maintenance. Truffles require many oak trees to grow, so they are often found in woodland. Further, they need cool winters and damp springs followed by hot summers with moderate rain to grow. Truffles grow so slowly that it can take six to seven years to get a harvest.

Also Read: How To Make Truffle Fries – Chef’s Special Recipe Inside

Harvesting isn’t easy either. Humans cannot smell truffles when they are underground, so, they need to train dogs and pigs to hunt for them in forests. Each truffle must be dug up by hand and have a short shelf life. They must be quickly transported else they lose moisture and freshness.

Do you like the taste of truffles or find them overrated? Tell us in the comments.

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