Truffle is type of fungus that grows underground. It is round, warty, and irregular in shape and vary from the size of a walnut to that of a man’s fist. The season for most truffles falls between September and May.
Truffles on Sweet Bread
They are among the most expensive of the world’s natural foods, often commanding as much as $250 to $450 per pound while the white truffle could be triple in price. It is the food for the elites and it is can be spread on any dish.Truffles are expensive because it is really hard to obtain and there are few ways to mine these fungi such as using the female pigs or truffle dogs, which are able to detect the strong smell of mature truffles underneath the surface of the ground. The female pig becomes excited when she sniffs a chemical that is similar to the male swine sex attractant. The use of pigs is risky, though, because of their natural tendency to eat any remotely edible thing. For this reason, dogs have been trained to dig into the ground wherever they find these odors, and they willingly exchange their truffle for a piece of bread and a pat on the head.
Truffle mining with trained dog
A casino mogul, Stanley Ho bid $330,000 (£210,000) for a pair of white truffles, including one weighing nearly a kilogram.
Truffles price has been rising from year to year due to the reducing quantity of the fungi to be mined from underground. A harvest of 2,200 tons was reported in l890. Three hundred tons were harvested in l914, but lately only 25 to 150 tons per year have been found. Truffles appear to have predictable life cycles. To ensure future production, appropriate tree seedlings are inoculated with truffle spores, and when the sapling tree is established, it is transplanted to the proper environment, usually a barren, rock-strewn calcific soil. It takes about seven years before the first truffle begins to grow. A bearing tree will produce for about fifteen to thirty years. For the European market to survive it is necessary to regularly replenish the population of truffle-bearing trees. Inoculated trees have been brought to North America, but it is too early to predict how successful these experiments will be.
The high price of the truffles also lead to the emerging black market around the United States and Europe. They are being traffic like drugs and stolen by thugs. One of the famous black market is in Richerenches, France. This is the place where miners go and sell their truffles illegally and their income could be up to 100 thousands Euro for every sack of truffles they are selling which weigh around 50 lbs. Many of the small transactions happen in at the back of the car or van but for big cash it happens at the back alley.
Richerenches Truffle Market, France
What scare the people in truffle business in France is the Chinese truffle that is flooding France market today. The Chinese truffles look almost the same like French but the quality taste and smell is totally low and the price just as low as 2 Euro for each pound. The Chinese truffles are described by the European chefs as catastrophic. Because of the low price oft he Chinese truffles, some the miners will mix it up with the French truffles before selling it to the market with hope that they will gain more money. Every year there are more than 28 tonnes of Chinese truffles being mixed with French truffles. Experts say it is hard to differentiate the Chinese and French truffles because it is like finding cocaine in flour.
Today, the Chinese truffles are infecting the truffles in French and Italy due to the illegal import activities. If the Europe started to produce Chinese truffles in their land, it is going to be the end of their business.
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