The truffle is a curiously diverse enigma with many different guises. The truffle enthusiast will be well aware of the thirty-odd varieties of this delicacy, however, it’s possible to get by with just a little basic knowledge. Let’s keep it simple by finding out a bit about the most well known varieties to begin with.
This is also known as the Perigord truffle, as this is the region in France that accounts for almost half of the black truffle haul. They’re also found in Spain and Italy with a few also coming from Croatia. The little nugget is one of the most expensive foods in the world, gram for gram, and it’s highly prized. Appearance-wise it’s not much to look at with its hard knobbly surface and it’s found around the roots of oak trees.
The white or Alba truffle is mostly found in Italy, again with a small amount from Croatia. The area surrounding Alba is where most of these truffles are harvested, hence the name. While the black truffle grows only with oak, the white truffle is a little less picky and is happy to reside amongst the roots of hazel, poplar and beech, as well. These delicate truffles need to be consumed as soon as possible after they surface from the earth in order to maximise the aroma and flavour.
As the name suggests, these are found in China. They are not considered to be of such high quality as the mighty Perigord or Alba truffles and there are actually a few different varieties that have become collectively known as the Chinese truffle. They tend to be sold for less than their European counterparts. This makes them a more viable option for someone on a budget who wants to indulge in one of the world’s greatest ingredients without having to re-mortgage their house.