One of the fanciest ways to add flavor to your food is by using a truffle. Truffles are a fungus, similar to the mushroom, that grows in the roots of trees such as poplar, oak, and birch. The fungus looks more like a potato and is definitely not related to the chocolate treat commonly sold around Valentine’s Day.

Truffles became popular in France during the 1800s when many truffle forests were planted. Unfortunately, World War II damaged the land where these popular delicacies grew, significantly reducing their availability.

What are truffles used for?

Truffles are used for cooking, most commonly in upscale restaurants. It’s important to use care when combining truffles with other ingredients to ensure the flavor of the truffle is not overpowered by other items on the plate. The truffle should be the star of any dish.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much of this delicious fungus to liven up a meal; a tiny bit of truffle goes a long way. Often, truffles are sliced and grated onto food, such as french fries, to add flavor to an otherwise boring dish. Their woody, nutty flavor works well with fatty and bland foods, such as foie gras and pasta.

How much do truffles cost & why?

Truffles are one of the most expensive foods used by chefs, and many are willing to pay up to $1200 for a pound of truffles. A recently produced black truffle in Australia weighing about 2 ¾ pounds costs between $2000 and $2500. And the cost of white truffles is typically even higher because they are more difficult to produce.

Truffles only grow in specific types of soil and under specific types of trees. To find the truffles, animals with a strong sense of smell, like dogs and pigs, sniff around the trees to locate them underground, inside the tree roots. Once they are found, humans must harvest the truffles, being careful not to damage the fungus or the tree. It is this difficult process that makes truffles so expensive.