12 FACTS TO UNRAVEL THE MYSTERIOUS LIFE OF TRUFFLES
1. Truffles are the “fruits” or fruiting bodies of an underground web of fungi. Truffles grow underground, about 1 to 6 inches below the soil’s surface.
5. In certain areas of the world it is common to go “truffle hunting.” Truffles are considered “gourmet edibles,” famous in cooking for their distinct and strongly, aromatic taste and odor. You can add truffle to a simple dish of rice, pasta, or eggs, and transform it into being intensely and intricately flavored.
2. Truffles have a symbiotic relationship with trees and can therefore be found under many species of trees. What kind of relationship? A nutrient exchange! Truffles wrap tiny “hairs” or filaments around the roots of the tree and through these small hairs they receive carbohydrates that the tree produces from photosynthesis. In return, the truffle, whose own invisible hairs reach much farther into the soil than the trees’ roots, offers the tree water and minerals.
3. Truffles only grow or “ripen” during certain times of the year and in a certain environments where the elevation, temperature, and humidity are just right.
4. Once the spores or "seeds" are fully matured inside of the truffle, the truffle then begins to produce it’s aroma. All truffle’s aromas are unique. Truffles permeate their aroma in order to attract animals to them to be dug up and eaten, similar to how a flower depends on a bee’s attraction to its nectar for pollination.
8. Many people wrongly believe that you should store a truffle in rice. However, truffles are 80% water so the rice will actually dry out the truffles and ruin the taste. Truffles should be eaten within 4 days and stored in a fridge. The fresher the better.
7. In Italy, the lucrative business of truffle hunting & selling is controlled. To be a truffle hunter you must first pass a test on the importance of environmental conservation. You must thereafter uphold your license with a yearly fee of 140 euros.
6. For centuries, humans have relied on the keen smelling sense of pigs and dogs to locate truffles. However, dogs, who are known to be more obedient than pigs and have less of an affinity towards the taste of truffles, have overtaken the role.
9. Did you know that scientists have figured out ways to chemically produce the aroma and taste of truffles in a laboratory? When buying any truffle product from a store or restaurant look at the ingredients; if you see "aroma" listed, that means that synthetic aroma has been added to the truffle oil or paste. Why would you add the synthetic aroma to real preserved truffles? Because a truffle's aroma does not keep well after being preserved so producers have to supplement the taste to retain the "truffle flavor."
10. Truffles are considered one of the most expensive foods in the world.
11. White truffles, the rarest of all, are dubbed “the king of truffles,” and are more prized and valued in the gourmet world than the black truffles. Prices for a white truffle can range any where from $3,500/lb - $6,000 per lb, scaling up or down based upon the quality of the truffle and that season’s supply and demand.
12. White truffles are most commonly found in Piedmont between the months of October-December where the ground is moist and the weather is cold.
After learning so much about the fascinating truffle, The Recipe Hunters, had to go on a hunt! Check out our adventure in the short film below, where we found a black truffle the size of a baseball. And if you ever find yourself in Piedmont, Italy, and have a hankering for a truffle hunt, contact Marco Varaldo, a local truffle hunter who has been at the business since he was five years old! Marco departs on daily truffle hunting tours from La Morra.
OUR TRUFFLE HUNTING FILM
Rich, decadent, earthy, nutty, and absolutely unforgettable, Luciana's Black Truffle Spaghetti Recipe is among our favorites. It super easy too! All you need are some black truffles, olive oil, spaghetti, garlic, and salt. Click on the Photo above to be linked to the recipe!
PHOTOS FROM OUR TRUFFLE HUNT