Truffles is one of the most expensive natural food in the world and can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars per pound. These delicacies had been found in Europe, Asia,North Africa and North America. Only 3 species are commercially important. In Texas, Tuber Texensis is collected, in Oregon, it is the white truffle Gibbosum. The Oregon white truffles is still in its infancy but truffles is harvested in sufficient amounts to meet commercial demands. The Oregon truffles cost about $150.00 per pound. Truffles have to reach maturity to be able to acquire that pungent, earthy smell that connouseur go crazy for.
The European truffle cost is prohibitive. Sometimes the Black Perigord from France is referred too as the black Gold.
Truffles grow in close myocorrhizsal association with the roots of specific tree and grow underground beneath the roots. Truffles range in size from a walnut to a small potato. The tuber is gnarled like a ginger, or like that of a withered potato. The season for truffle is from September to May. If you are in Italy or France during the truffle season, visit the markets and you will find truffles for sale . Beware, you can not touch them, nor can you touch any produce. The Italians and French people prize their produce. You just have to judge the item by sight. If you buy truffles, I am not sure if you can take your purchase back to the US anyway. When it is in season all the restaurant have it on the menu so eat and enjoy!
There is another variety of truffle that never reach the world market place , and that is the desert truffle. As soon as the first spring rain fall, the Bedouins scours the wide sand plains that starts from the East of Damascus and stretched hundreds of miles to Bagdad for signs of telitale grasses and cracks indicating that truffles lies beneath the surface. Desert truffles are a specie of the mushroom family and a distant relative to the European Truffle. They are packed with protein, and often used as substitute for meat in the Middle East
The two most expensive truffles are the French black truffle (tuber melanosporum) from the Perigord region of Southwest France. and the white odorous white truffle( tuber magnatum) of Alba in the Piedmont district of Italy. The black truffle is used in making pate de foe gras, and is an ubiguitos ingredient in French Provencial cooking. The white truffles from Italy is usually eaten fresh sprinkled on top of salads,sauces,souffle and other prepared dishes. When shavings or thin wedges of truffles are added to a dish, the dish is glorified. In Italy the white truffle is crushed with olive oil,filtered and dispense in a 3 ounce medicine bottle with an eye dropper. No one knows what they do with the truffle pulp , some suspect that it is canned and sold to the foreign market.
In Europe the truffles were harvested with the aid of a female pig (swine) , which are able to detect the smell of the truffle because the smell is liken to the smell that a male pig emits. Lately, they stopped using the female pig as it devours all or most of the truffles found. Dogs are now trained to haunt this delicacy since they can be trained to search and find this jewels and are happy to get a different reward. In Cordon Bleu cooking school, the truffles are kept in the kitchen safe. If you take a course in French provencial cooking, they will issue you a piece of truffle, mine was the size of small withered potato. One of my classmate who was a Canadian actress thought it was trash that was placed in her supply bin by mistakes, so she threw it in the trash. The instructor made her pick it up and gave us a lecture of how expensive this ingredient was.
The smell of truffles can permeat other food. If you store a piece of truffle in your rice bin, the rice will acquire the taste of truffle. Put it in a basket with eggs and the eggs will taste like truffles.This is especially true of the white odorous truffle from Italy.
If you buy a fresh truffle, do not wash it in water, chances are it has already been cleaned. I was told that the best way to clean truffles is to use a brush sans water, this will remove the dirt or soil attached to the truffles. If you want to store truffle, put it in a container with madeira wine and refrigerate. When I make gallantine and other cooked dishes requiring truffles, I use truffle peelings which can be purchased in specialty stores in 7oz can and cost about $40-45 a can. And then there is the 6oz white truffle oil spritzer that you can spray on salads for a delicious truffle taste. The cost of either black or white truffles is prohibitive and unless I am impressing someone, I will not use the whole truffle. You can buy truffles on line from different France company but the price is not stable, it is like the stock market , it goes up and down based on availability.