What is a Truffle?
We love to eat them, but how much do we really know about truffles? These culinary gems are the fruiting bodies of underground fungus that help to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between fungi and their host plant. Heavy rainfall and fertile soil offer ideal conditions for truffles to grow and thrive on the roots of our beloved firs.
What do Truffles Taste Like?
The pungent aroma tantalizes the senses and draws you in with curious excitement. Flavors vary widely between individual fruits, making the taste difficult to place. Some will exude a garlic-like aroma and flavor, while others lean toward the fruity.
Perhaps the best description comes from world-renowned truffle expert, Dr. Charles Lefevre who says, “Truffles are more of an experience than a taste,” Noting the variance between individual truffles, even within the same terroir.
“The white truffle aroma enters your sinuses, swirls around your head and it’s kind of magical. The experience in food is that it adds electricity. The Oregon black truffle has a fruity, pineapple-type of aroma. At their best, black truffles are like bright, happy, sweet tropical fruits,” Dr. Lefevre says.
How are Truffles Sourced?
As they ripen, truffles emit a powerful aroma that can be detected above ground by many types of scavenging animals. You may be familiar with the truffle hunting pig, made infamous by the Nicolas Cage thriller, Pig. However, mycologists agree that dogs are more commonly used for truffle hunting because they are less likely than pigs to devour the truffles before they can be collected. Dogs are so suitable for the task that, with minimal training, nearly any breed can be a successful truffle hunter. But, before you grab your best friend and head for the hills, you should know that caring for, and preserving truffles is a delicate process because they quickly lose their potency once they are harvested. This is why truffles are so expensive to buy.