Truffles: Why Are They So Expensive?

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Many people are familiar with the chocolate kind of truffles and although that tastes great too, it doesn’t come close to what we are talking about here.

What is a truffle?

Truffles are one of the most expensive ingredients on the planet. They are small, funny looking, and often misshapen sized balls with a price starting from as much as $2500. They are relatively rare, with an almost indescribable but interesting taste and aroma. A truffle is an edible subterranean fungus or tuber. They are closely similar to mushrooms but still different. Mushrooms grow above ground, while this unique ball of goodness grows hidden beneath the soil surface. They are known to love dark areas.

Truffles Why Are They So Expensive

Although truffles may look the same and grow the same way, there are several species. The most popular is the winter white truffle, winter black truffle, Chinese black truffle, and summer black truffle. Not all truffle are created equal; some taste awful, others have no taste at all, but the most prized truffles are an experience to be had in the tasting.

Now, what makes a single pound of truffle cost as much as $2500? European white truffles even cost up to $3600 per pound. Here are all the reasons why.

Truffles
Handmade fresh egg pasta with black truffle serving in Italy

  • Tasty truffles are super rare

They say, good things don’t come easy and these potato-looking balls make sure that is true. Truffles are wild food found around the roots of trees. They grow uncontrolled and scattered making it hard to find them. Cultivating edible truffles is almost impossible. Hence, they have to be searched for like a treasure. Truffle farmers are not so many either and each one keeps their hunting spot hidden. Also, because of their taste, there is usually a high demand for them.

 

  • They are picky.

Very picky! Truffle doesn’t just grow anywhere. It chooses the weather, time, and place. They are sensitive to soil temperature, soil moisture, plant density, competing fungi, and other factors. Even in a truffle-friendly environment, there is no guarantee that you can harvest truffles by planting the spores. Not to mention, they are extremely slow growers. Some types take anywhere between four to six years to grow.

Truffles Why Are They So Expensive
Hand holding truffles, Puymeras, Provence, France

  • Harvesting is no small feat

Hunters usually rely on animals like dogs or pigs to help them find truffles. When truffles mature, they give off smelly compounds that attract animals with a great sense of smell. The only problem with relying on animals to find truffles is having to stop them from eating it. Once the truffles have been found, they must be carefully harvested to avoid damage.

Truffle Hunting in Sienna
  • They don’t last long

Despite all it takes to find these tasty ugly looking balls, they don’t have a long shelf life. There is a limited time for when they are great to eat. In four to five days, they start to lose their flavor and by the seventh day; the flavor is completely gone.

Truffles play various roles in the food and wine industry. If you have tried the black truffle but didn’t like it, you should try the white truffle. Both differ in flavors. Now, you know why they are so pricey, you can also make the decision to enjoy them occasionally.

Truffles

Read more from I On The Scene: HERE.

Read more from Irene Michaels on HuffPost: HERE.

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