And I Can Cook, Too

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tips on Truffles

A truffle is a rare, pungent fungus that grows wildly around the roots of oak trees. In Italy and France, truffles are hunted from November to March. Although hunters once used pigs to sniff out the truffles rich, earthy aroma, the pigs did not want to give up their truffles, and hunters have now trained dogs for the job. Both their scarcity and the labor-intensive method of harvesting them make truffles extremely expensive; they can cost up to $900/lb. There are dozens of varieties of truffles, all ranging in size and color. Two of the most common are the White Truffle and the Black Truffle. Black Truffles are found in the Perigord Region of France. They need to be cooked slightly to fully bring out their flavor. White Truffles are found in the Piedmont section of Italy. They are far more pungent than black truffles. They can be eaten raw, and are strong enough to hold up to game meats. Truffles are usually shaved into foods using either a specialty truffle shaver or a rasp. A little goes a long way, and once it’s in your dish you can’t take it out, so start with a little and add to taste.

Infusing either white or black truffles in olive oil makes truffle oil. Truffle oil also comes in white and black, white truffle oil is much more pungent than black. Truffle oil, while not cheap, is significantly less expensive that truffles, and is an excellent way to get the flavor of the truffle without the cost. And as with the actual truffle, a little goes a long way. Truffle oil will use its flavor over time, and as with all oils, truffle oil should be stored in a cool, dark place.

A word to the wise of truffle use: Brillat-Savarin himself called the truffle an aphrodisiac. I’ve seen it make a grown man cry.


  • At 11:32 AM, Blogger Kim Binsted said…

    So, where would I buy a truffle? How do I know if I'm getting good truffle value? I see I can get them online (e.g. at Sabatino, but should I??


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