You’d probably be forgiven for thinking that truffles are just a specific type of chocolate treat! However, natural truffles are a little bit different to the soft, rich sweets you’d find in a box of Milk Tray.
They’re extremely valuable, and many people go truffle-sniffing to find the delicacies. But what actually are truffles? Here’s 10 interesting facts about truffles to get you started…
Truffles are technically mushrooms. There are many different varieties, and you will normally find them latching to a tree as its host. That’s because truffles generally need phosphorous from their host trees and plants to be able to thrive.
Generally, you’ll find truffles growing deep beneath the soil of hazelnut trees, though truffle-sniffers will also find a nice crop or two beneath oak trees and growths. It’s generally difficult to spot them with the naked eye.
Truffles are sought-after as culinary delicacies. Many truffle-hunters, believe it or not, use pigs to help sniff them out below the soil! However, it is generally more common these days to use dogs and their extreme sniffing power to hunt down some of the best-hidden mushrooms deep beneath the soil.
Digging for truffles…
It’s thought that using pigs – sows, specifically – for truffle-sniffing went out of fashion for a simple reason. They had a propensity to eat the truffles as soon as they found them! Back to the sty for you, then!
Truffles have a famous rich and earthy taste and smell, and there are plenty of schools of thought out there to suggest why. Many believe that the differences in taste and texture between black and white truffles, for example, may be down to soil wetness. That’s why the UK, and Europe, are hotspots for truffle-hunting – appalling weather breeds delicious truffles!
You can derive all kinds of products from truffles. A true truffle aficionado will tell you that you need to sample one in its raw form. However, many people make oils and butters from them.
For the best truffles, you will normally need to go sniffing and hunting towards the end of February and the start of March. However, there are some truffle markets which open earlier, around December time. Generally, don’t expect to find too many of them in the warmer months!
While there’s a clear difference between natural truffles and chocolate truffles, Fritz Knipschildt decided to blend the two. The chocolatier’s $250 truffle – it’s seriously that expensive – coats a Périgord truffle in 70% dark chocolate, oil, sugar and cream. Savour it – as you’re likely paying over $100 a bite!
The biggest white truffle ever discovered weighed in at around 4lbs. This is pretty hefty for a mushroom! It was found in Italy.
It’s thought that the delicacy market for truffles dates back to ancient times, as the Romans and Greeks were thought to dine on them as luxury foodstuffs. There’s also an old adage that states they have aphrodisiac qualities!
Do you know any interesting or fun facts about truffles that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!