The Black Diamonds of the Earth Learn All about them to from The Texas Truffle Lady Diane Roederer
Sorry but Truffles are a fungus from the "Tuber" family that grow underground on the roots of specific trees: Oak, Hazelnut and Chestnut despite this they are among the most expensive and appreciated delicacies in the World. They are found on most Continents: Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America. There are over 40 different species of Truffles in the World though relatively few of them have a real market value. The most valuable ones are those powerfully flavorful the Tuber Magnatum Pico called The Alba Truffle or the Italian White Truffle, and the Tuber Melanosporum called the Périgord Truffle or Black Winter Truffle. They are difficult to grow, hard to find in the wild and in decline because of climate change and habitat loss, and therefore in high demand and high prices.
In the future: Black Winter Truffles, The Périgord, are being planted and successfully produced in Australia and New Zealand; are starting quite well in Chili, offering the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Truffles in the middle of our summer! Emerging is the production in the USA, we have planted some inoculated trees of winter truffles in North Carolina, Northern California and Oregon. The production should follow within the next couple of years, as it takes about 7 years to start producing if the tree produces of course.
The White Truffle, The Alba Truffle, can be found in the Northern and Central part of Italy: especially Piedmont, Tuscany and Marches as well as in some Central European Countries like Croatia, Romania and few more. The main issue with the White Truffle is that we have not been able to inoculate trees with their spores so they can only be found the Wild and in these few areas in the World and these two factors explain why the White Truffles is so much more expensive than The Winter Black!
Interesting is the way you "hunt" for Truffles... Because it is really a hunt! They are hunted with dogs. The smell of the mature truffle attracts the dog. When the spores of the truffle mature, the fungus produces aromatic compounds that attract the dog. The animals dig up the truffle, and the truffle spores become dispersed. Pigs used to be used also but they deteriorate the more the ground and they also love to eat Truffles! So who wants to wrestle a pig? Any way the use of pigs especially in Italy has been banned.
Left is Diane Roederer, The Texas Truffle Lady, hunting for Truffles in Spain.