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Betty the Butterfly's Blog >>

The Luxury Of Fungus


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A Black Truffle

Truffles are best known as one of the most prestigious and luxurious food items on the planet, but what are these rare delicacies that demand such a handsome price on the market? Well, there are hundreds of different truffle species that are found growing in mild climates in parts of France, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia, along with a limited number of other locations around the world including parts of the USA.

A member of the fungus family, truffles most commonly reach their harvesting peak between autumn and spring when they are ideally hunted for under the cover of night. Truffles can vary in size and appearance depending on the species, and they can also differ quite distinctively in their taste and aroma too, in relation to which tree root species they grew on. Some truffles can grow to be quite large, and although it is rare, these often sell for six figure sums.


A Truffle Pig

Truffles are highly sought after for their strong earthy taste, as they are served uncooked and shaved into pastas and salads or used as an ingredient in light sauces, and can fetch thousands due to their rarity. Growing about a foot underground amongst the roots of trees including oak, birch, chestnut, hazel, beech and willow, means that truffles can be pretty hard to find so many hunters use dogs or pigs to help them to seek out the delicacies that are buried in the soil.

Although trufficulteurs (truffle hunters) are known to most commonly use specially trained dogs to hunt out truffles, female pigs are known to be just as effective. Sows can sniff out the pungent odour of the truffles as they are attracted to it, due to the fact that this odour is said to resemble the smell of a male pig. Pigs however, are often known to gobble down the buried treasure meaning that dogs make a more popular (and profitable) choice at sniffing them out.


A White Truffle

Some of the most prized truffles in the world include the French Black Truffle which is found in the oak forests of the Perigord region in south-western France. They grow up to 7cm in diameter, can weigh up to 100g and sell for nearly 4,000 euros per kilo at retail. The Italian White Truffle however, is considered the rarest and most expensive truffle in the world - found in the oak, poplar and beech forests of northern Italy. Measuring at 12cm in diameter and weighing up to 500g, one kilo can sell for more than 10,000 euros.

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