Italian truffles: Why they're so prized and how to use them in your cooking


One of the most highly-prized Italian culinary delicacies, truffles feature a tradition and harvesting method that is utterly unique. Follow along as we learn more about truffles and how to use this delicacy to enhance simple, authentic dishes.

Truffles: What are they and how many varieties are there?

Truffles are similar to mushrooms but differ in the fact that they sprout and grow underground and are therefore classified as a type of "hypogeous" fungi. 

There are many different varieties of truffles, based on their harvest season, size, aromatic notes and flavors, and other factors: there are estimated to be over 60 types of truffles, although only 9 are actually edible and marketable.

Their difference in color is also well known, with a clear distinction between white truffles and black truffles: two families that are quite different in their appearance, flavor, and use, with black truffle winning out in terms of delicacy and an almost sweet aftertaste, depending on the type, and white truffle featuring more intense flavor nuances and a garlicky, almost spicy tang.

There are several areas in Italy renowned for their truffles: for white truffles, Alba (Piedmont region), Acqualagna (Marche region), and Val di Sangro (Abruzzo region) are all worth mentioning, while Norcia (Umbria region) and Bagnoli Irpino (Campania region) are famous for their black truffles.

How are truffles harvested?

Truffle hunting is governed by a series of regulations and prohibitions, which aim to regulate the harvest and sale of truffles, and is entrusted to an animal that is blessed with one of the keenest noses in the world: dogs. 

The use of dogs that are specially trained for hunting truffles is required by law as they can locate truffles with pin-point precision, avoiding unnecessary holes in the ground, as was once the case when pigs were used instead.

Thus, it's easy to understand the reasons behind the truffle market's high prices: from seasonality to their rarity, from changes in production depending on the year to harvesting difficulties, as well as the actual demand and dog training and maintenance costs, truffle prices are subject to significant fluctuations, and their value can rise or fall from year to year.

How to use Italian truffles in your cooking: tips and best practices

Truffles are very easy to use in the kitchen and extremely versatile: they go well with a wide range of dishes, from appetizers to entrées, from eggs to meat dishes, lending dishes a truly unique flair with their unmistakable aromas.

Some dishes in which truffles are particularly good include crostini or toast with cheese, fettuccine, tagliatelle, risottos, ravioli, chicken breast, polenta, and fried eggs.

Check out our daily prepared food special or call us at (973) 966-5200 to find out about any of today's truffle dishes.

Buy Italian products with truffles online!

Do you love truffles and fancy using them in your cooking and recipes? You can count on our selected suppliers, direct from Italy!

In the Healthy Italia online shop, you can choose from:

The product range is subject to seasonality and actual harvest quantities. Check our Italian food catalog on a regular basis and stay up to date on the latest products!

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