What Are Truffles? And Everything Else to Know About the Celebrated Ingredient

A renowned royalty among professional chefs and home cooks alike, truffles are one of the most costly ingredients in the world. Still, the question remains: What exactly are truffles? And better yet: Why are they so ghastly expensive? Read on below as we break down everything you need to know about this enigmatic delight.

White Truffles Vs. Black Truffles

There are white and black truffles, but they’re entirely different when it comes to, well… nearly everything.

Black truffles grow with the oak and hazelnut trees in the Périgord region in France, while White truffles are typically found in the Langhe and Montferrat areas of northern Italy around the Piedmont region. When it comes to burgundy truffles, they can be found throughout Europe in general.

Since they’re easier to find, black truffles are more affordable. They’re also freezable. Conversely, white truffles are rare. Like, very rare. So rare, in fact, that it is valued at as much as $3,000 per pound, inspiring a massive black market for them.

How They’re Found

Depending on which country they hail from, truffles are sniffed out by specially trained truffle dogs or female pigs. Afterward, they’re dug up by the “hunter.” 

We know what you might be wondering: But how do these dogs and female pigs know how to “sniff” truffles out to begin with? Well, it all boils down to some simple science.

Truffles are unique in that they’re located through the natural aroma they release when they interact with certain plants, mammals, and insects. What’s more, these interactions also encourage new colonies of the truffle fungus to appear. 

Differences in Taste
In general, black truffles are better when they are cooked since the full flavor and aroma is released when they are heated. Often coupled with red meat and poultry, sauces, pates, and other more richly flavored dishes, the flavor and aroma of black truffles is strong, earthy, and musky.

On the flip side, fresh white truffles are always served raw, usually shaved over a dish just before serving. Frequently paired with pasta, risotto, potatoes and eggs, as well as white meats and fish, white truffles have a slightly garlicky aroma and a delicate but distinct flavor.

Curious for a taste? Shop our truffle selections today!