Truffles have often been called the diamond of the culinary world,. Now, there's a heightened interest in these ‘diamonds’: truffles. Truffles grow primarily in France and Italy, but there is a long list of facts and myths all around the world regarding these knobby balls.
Truffles are rare and edible mushrooms considered a delicacy due to their intense flavor and aroma. There are hundreds of different species, only some are considered delicacies. Since they are difficult to find, they are usually harvested by trained dogs in the wild.
Truffles are usually classified based on their exterior, smell, and taste. Many are commonly known by their location rather than their scientific name. Their value depends on their rarity and specific aromatic qualities.
The most rare truffles are from Italy, and are known as Piedmont truffles. They are white and have the strongest smell of all truffles. They range from walnut size through to something the size of an apple, and are found, as the name suggests, in the Piedmont region in Italy. The second most rare is the French Périgord (from the Périgord region of France) truffle. When fresh, it has a brown-black exterior, and it ranges from a pea to an orange in size. Other varieties include the Oregon, Chinese and the Summer truffles (found in France, Italy, and Spain, respectively).
Found approximately 30 cm under the ground, close to roots of a variety of species of trees, it is the strong odor that allows animals to locate them. The digging of the animals serves, at the same time, to scatter their spores in order to reproduce. When in season, truffle hunting is a profitable business from late fall through early spring.
Truffles are used to infuse flavor into foods, however they should be carefully handled to preserve its aroma and flavor. There are certain cleaning and washing methods which need to be used to maintain the truffles’ aroma after being harvested. They should also be placed in an air-tight container or glass jar with paper towels between layers. However, they should never become dried-out, as this will cause them to lose their pungency.