When you hear the word "truffles", do you think of chocolate candies or underground mushrooms? Here, we will be talking about truffles, uncommon mushrooms with a strong aroma and a delicious flavour that grow underground. It may come as a surprise, but many individuals don't know about truffles. So before questions concerning these delicious fungi start popping up in your mind, read on the characteristics that everyone should know about truffles and find out why they are so valued and considered a rare delicacy.
Truffles: A culinary gem
Truffles are considered to be a culinary gem. There are two types of truffles, white and black. White truffles are more delicate than black truffles. On the other hand, black truffles have a more earthy fragrance and can be cooked and included in different recipes, while white truffles cannot withstand much heat. This is the reason why white truffles are often time added when the meal is ready to be served to bring flavour to the meal, for example, they are shaved over a freshly cooked dish like risotto.
Truffles: Fungi or Mushroom?
Truffles are uncommon fungi that grow underground under very specific conditions. They might often be confused with ordinary mushrooms, but they do not have caps or stems. Moreover, truffles only grow underground, while mushrooms grow above the earth's surface. Also, since both of the plants are under the fungi family, people assume they are the same.
Truffles are one of the world's most expensive food and the priciest type of them is the Tuber Magnatum species from Alba usually called White Truffle or Piedmonte Truffle. White truffles are found in Piedmont, a region in the northwest of Italy. It is found in northern Italy and growing in soil rich in calcium carbonate. While all truffles are deeply valued, the white truffle from Alba is the most desired for its unforgettable flavour. They have a knobby shape, firm flesh, and pale golden colour. White truffles are sought after for their larger size and rarity.
Aside from the size and limited quantity, White truffles are also desired for the quality of taste and their delicate pleasant aroma. It is so good that it can be eaten raw. White truffles are adored for their strong aromatic musky flavour and mild garlic essence. The rarity and the milder taste of the white truffles are the reasons why it is more expensive than black truffles. Moreover, Black truffles are more common than white truffles.
Why are truffles valued so much?
Truffles are a rare delicacy that is extremely hard to find as they develop under the soil. In order to find a truffle, the truffle hunter or ”trifolao” must take advantage of the invaluable collaboration of a dog with excellent sniffing skills, trained to detect the aroma of this fungus, and of his intuition gained over years of experience. The truffle, after being detected by the dog, is extracted from the soil by the hunter. This is an operation where the trifolao uses a particular hoe, and which needs to be carried out with utmost delicacy. The operation ends only when the excavated soil is compacted again and allows the extraction of the truffle. Many times, it takes thousands of workers and animals to find truffles, which is a large component in the high price tag. Once harvested, truffles must be consumed in a very short period of time. Their rarity, difficulty to harvest, short shelf-life, and the desire for them across the globe all play a part in their value.
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