What Is a Truffle? Your Guide to the Culinary Trend

What Is It?

A truffle is essentially a type of a fungus that can weigh as much as an ounce to over a pound. Visually, the truffle has a mushroom-like texture and appearance and can be found in both black and white variations.

Among specialty foods, truffles enjoy an almost unheard-of following among culinary experts. The flavor is rich, distinctive, and a beloved addition to pasta, meat dishes, and various iterations of international cuisine. To the delight of adventurous mixologists and curious cocktail lovers, truffles can also be found (infused and distilled) in truffle vodka. While chocolate truffles infused with truffle oil do exist, the truffle candy was originally called a truffle because of its resemblance to the small, dark, ball-like fungal version.

Where Is It Found?

Truffles grow underground and must be sniffed out by specially trained dogs or truffle pigs, who can remarkably detect truffles that are as deep as a meter beneath the surface. They are often cultivated in “truffle groves,” which account for over 80% of truffle output in places like France. Although, they can also be found in the wild in Italy, Australia, Chile, and certain regions of the U.S.

How Much Does It Cost?

One of the primary reasons truffles get so much culinary press (and such a degree of public fascination) is because of their exorbitant cost. Believe it or not, an individual truffle might go for as much as $160,000. While this kind of price tag is rare, truffles do tend to go for about $3000 per pound, and there’s little indication that prices will drop anytime soon. According to Veronica Giraudo, export director at Tartuflanghe in Italy, this is in part because “compared to 20 years ago, fewer truffles are coming to market.”

While supply decreases and demand increases, there’s never been a better time to enjoy this beloved food trend. So get foraging—if not underground then at least at your favorite restaurant.

Now, discover the weirdly delicious fungus that’s been called “the truffle of Japan.”