It’s reportedly been a very difficult truffle season, but the prized ingredients are starting to gain gastronomical traction.
Prime aromatic mushrooms can go for up to $3,000 per pound and the high price point doesn’t seem to stop their growing popularity among foodies. Last year, a white truffle weighing over four pounds sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $61,250.
Truffles are more likely than ever to even show up in your next cocktail or dessert. Here, chef and at Esquared Hospitality culinary consultant David Burke gives T&Csome truffle intel that will keep you from digging for dinner conversation over the fancy fungi:
- They’re a chef favorite. Nobody makes money making truffles. Maybe you break even, make a little money. It’s one of those luxury items chefs want to have and we charge a lot [for them], but [they cost] so much. People really do appreciate good stuff and they’re willing to pay for it.
- Truffles are trending. More people are starting to appreciate and learn more about the uniqueness of the truffles and their rarity. People seem to want to get their fill for the year. It’s become an American seasonal thing that starts around Thanksgiving. We sell more and more as time goes on.
- White vs. black. The white truffles, you just want to eat raw. They’re usually used in fatty dishes. Black winter truffles … have a tougher aroma. Sometimes they’re cooked in wine and oil. Black ones are more into brown sauces and with fillings like ravioli and pate.
- Treat your truffles right. You don’t need to clean the white ones. When you clean truffles, use a fresh toothbrush. We recommend not rinsing. Keep them in dry rice or a paper towel. Take a sharp knife or shave away. You want them nice and thin. The worst thing you can do with a truffle is forget about it in your fridge or cook it to death. I think deep frying would be something terrible to do. There’s a synthetic oil used for truffle fries. And butter goes a long way. Truffle butter on toast is good.
- They’re like wine. The biggest misconception is they’re not worth the price. Some years they’re better than others. Some days they smell better, or there can be an abundance or shortage of truffles, so that also changes the price. The bigger they are, the more you pay.
- They’re going mainstream. Normally you’d only get truffles in the main cities. Now they’re being used in bistros and mom and pop shops, but it’s buy what you need. If you can buy fresh truffles, you can buy them online. They’re being grown in different countries, like China and the U.S. I don’t know how successful they are but they’ve been around for centuries. I think they’ll be around for more.