Truffles, prized in Italy (and the world over) for their earthy, pungent aroma and distinctive flavor, boast one of the most unique flavor profiles found in nature. These distinctive tubers with an unassuming appearance have an irresistible allure to many and are just as strong a deterrent to many others - mention the word to anyone who has tried them, and you’ll see how genuinely polarizing they are. Most people either love them or hate them.
However, if you ask any pig or dog, you’ll find their love of truffles is unanimous! Truffles are very difficult to cultivate, so they are typically obtained through ‘hunting’ in the wild with the help of truffle-loving companions who have a much keener sense of smell than we do, namely, dogs. Pigs are also quite capable of detecting truffles. Still, in Italy, it is now illegal to use pigs for truffle hunting because of their propensity to destroy the habitat of the truffles they find.
While there are many truffle varieties, one of the most expensive and sought-after is called the Italian truffle, a winter white truffle only found in Italy. Specifically, they are typically found in the northern regions of Italy, particularly in Piedmont, and are harvested from September to December. White truffles have a pale, cream-colored exterior and an intense, garlicky aroma. They are often shaved or grated over dishes like pasta, risotto, or eggs to enhance their flavor.
Black truffles come in several varieties and are found in various regions of Italy, including Umbria, Tuscany, and the Marche. They are available at different times of the year, with the summer black truffle (Tuber aestivum) being less expensive and aromatic than the winter black truffle (Tuber melanosporum). Black truffles are used in various dishes, such as sauces, omelets, and salads.
The flavor of truffles is so complex and satisfying that even simple recipes like truffle spaghetti or truffle carpaccio are an excellent way to enjoy them.Can’t get your hands on fresh truffles right now? Don’t think you have to give up on all your truffle recipes! Try this fragrant, truffle-infused olive oil, which uses the famous white truffles from Italy to add exquisite flavor to any dish. We also love adding this dried, powdered truffle for a kick of depth.