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Where Are Truffles Found?

Six black truffles.

Where Are Truffles Found?

So, you’ve heard of truffles, truffle oils, truffle on pasta, truffle fries, and truffle on pretty much anything else you can think of. But what exactly is a truffle? And where do these mystical, mysterious truffles come from? Let's dive in.

What Is a Truffle? 

Truffles are a type of fungi, like mushrooms, but different. Truffles tend to be firmer, while mushrooms are often soft. Many mushrooms are known for their long stems and capped tops. Both parts are usually edible, though some people just use the caps. 

Truffles, on the other hand, lack both a stem and a cap; instead, they look like porous black or white potatoes. They are typically the size of a marble or golf ball. 

Truffle growth only occurs underground as they attach themselves to the roots of trees. Mushrooms are often found growing above ground and don’t need trees to grow. 

Also, truffles have a unique smell and flavor. Its distinctive umami tang makes it a delicacy and for this reason, truffles are usually consumed in small doses, often as toppings or added ingredients to larger dishes. When it comes to flavor, just a little bit of truffle goes a long way.

How Do You Eat Truffles?

Many people eat truffles by grating them into shavings and using them as an ingredient or topping for various dishes such as pasta, fries, or sometimes even desserts. Typically, dishes with truffle shavings are found at high-end, luxurious restaurants, as truffles are considered a rare delicacy. That said, we think you can bring a bit of that luxury home to your everyday dishes.

Truffle Pasta

Although our favorite fungi can appear in a variety of ways here, truffle pasta is one of the most popular truffle-inclusive dishes. Most of us recognize truffle pasta for its signature element of truffle shavings topping the finalized pasta dish. However, some pasta dishes also include truffle flavors in the recipes themselves, such as in the pasta sauce or drizzled on top in the form of truffle oil.

Truffle Oil

For those who either prefer a strong truffle flavor to a subtle accent of truffle shavings, truffle oil is where it’s at! 

Truffle oil is made by infusing olive oil and truffle together. Some companies artificially produce a truffle flavor by adding chemical compounds to olive oil which can emulate the taste. However, other brands (like TRUFF) infuse real truffles into the oil to create an authentic, decadent oil perfect for elevating every meal. 

There are many different kinds of truffles that slightly vary in taste, so the flavor of any truffle oil or seasoning depends on the variety used.

Truffle oil can be used as a seasoning within or on dishes like pasta, chicken wings, sandwiches, and dips. A personal favorite of ours is this Skillet Mac And Cheese recipe that features TRUFF Black Truffle Oil.

The Different Types of Truffles

There are so many different species of truffle that the list goes on and on. To make things easier for you, here are three of the most commonly distributed and eaten species of truffles:

  • Black Truffles
  • White Truffles
  • Burgundy Truffles

Black Truffles

Also known as Tuber melanosporum or the Périgord truffle, black truffles are frequently found in France! They’re also found across other parts of Southern Europe, such as Spain. More recent black truffle cultivation has occurred in Australia and North America. Most truffle cultivation in the United States happens around Oregon (known for the Oregon Black Truffle) and the rest of the Pacific Northwest.

Typically, black truffles are most commonly grated and used as toppings on lux dishes or as ingredients in sauces. They are probably the quintessential image that comes to mind when you hear the word truffle.

White Truffles

While black truffles are native to France and Spain, Tuber magnatum pico, or white truffles, are commonly found in various regions across Italy. As their name suggests, they are a lot lighter in color, though they turn darker as they age. White truffles also tend to be rarer than black truffles and are worth a lot more.

Generally, white truffles tend to be much more delicate than their black truffle cousins and can even break apart during harvesting. White truffles are very sensitive to environmental factors. Their growth can often be influenced by changes in weather and their surroundings. This makes them very hard to grow (truffle farming is no joke!).

Of all the varieties of white truffle, the rarest and most expensive species is the Italian Alba white truffle, native to the Piedmont region of Italy. The cost can be over $3,000 for half a pound!

Burgundy Truffles

Now that we’ve checked out black truffles and white truffles, let’s dive in on the more elusive burgundy truffles. 

Burgundy truffles can be grown in many of the same regions as both black and white truffles, including France, Italy, and Spain. They also fall somewhere between the two other varieties when it comes to appearance. They have a black exterior with an off-white interior. Burgundy truffles also have a lighter scent in comparison to other truffle species. 

The name of Burgundy truffles has changed a bit over the years. If you Google them, they were formerly known as Tuber uncinatum, but now go by Tuber aestivum. We like to keep it more simple and call them as they are best known —  summer truffles. 

Whereas other truffles are usually harvested in winter or fall, Burgundy truffles are best harvested in the summer months.

Where Are Truffles Found?

Truffles can be found all around the world. They’re mostly found in European countries like France, Italy, and Spain, but certain parts of the United States are working to grow and cultivate them here (shoutout to the Pacific Northwest!). As the truffle industry develops, the international market has expanded and truffle cultivation is reaching more far-flung corners of the world, such as New Zealand and Australia. 

Since truffles are subterranean fungi that can only grow beneath the ground and below certain host trees, they’re considered to be rare and an expensive delicacy. Since their small, round, spore-covered fruiting bodies lack a stem, they attach themselves to the roots of trees, making it harder to find them when searching or hunting above ground. 

In terms of what kinds of trees are likely to host truffles, keep an eye on oak trees, hazelnut trees, poplar trees, and other varieties like the Douglas fir. Different varieties may be more likely to grow with different trees.

As finding truffles can be quite difficult due to their locations underground, those sourcing them often must go out truffle hunting or send animals to hunt for them.

Truffle Hunting

In the past, pigs were used to truffle hunt and seek out the smell of truffles underground due to their powerful sense of smell. Pigs are such strong truffle hunters because they are drawn to a scent secreted by truffles. To them, it smells like a hormone (androstenol) which pigs release during mating season.

Nowadays, truffle hunting is more commonly done by dogs due to their keen sense of smell. With truffles’ strong scent, it’s easy to train dogs to find these little marvels. Plus, dogs don’t usually snack on them as the pigs sometimes do. 

As the truffles grow older, they release more intense odors that nearby animals are able to pick up. Dogs can pick up these pheromones just as well as pigs, though they may not be quite as enthusiastic about it. 

The Lagotto Romagnolo dog breed is commonly chosen as truffle hunters to track down truffles. Though most dogs have a keen sense of smell that could be used for hunting our favorite fungi, Lagotto Romagnolos have earned the title of truffle dogs and are seemingly the most efficient at locating underground truffles.

So, How Do I Get My Hands on Some Truffles?

You’ve got plenty of options! In places where truffles are more common such as Italy, France, or other European countries, there are truffle festivals where various types of truffles are sold en masse. Festivals like these are one of the best places to find fresh truffles, as they’re coming straight from the source.

However, if you aren’t flying out to Europe anytime soon, truffles can easily be found as truffle oil. It's a versatile option that can be used in everything from burgers to pasta. Usually, you’d find these foods in high-class restaurants, but with TRUFF’s line of truffle-infused hot sauces, pasta sauces, truffle oils, or even mayo, you can make your own amazing dishes at home. 


Potentials of Truffles in Nutritional and Medicinal Applications: A Review | PMC

Tour of Truffles: Aromas, Aphrodisiacs, Adaptogens, and More | PMC

Truffle Hunting | Lagotto Romagnolo Club of America


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