IT will soon be truffle-hunting season in the woods and forests of France, when people will be searching for the little ‘black diamonds’.
The Périgord region of southwest France is regarded as home to some of the finest specimens, but Provence and northern Italy are also known for the rare delicacy.
And it is indeed a rarity as the amounts found in the Périgord have tumbled from 200 tonnes in the early 1900s to around 5 tonnes today.
Naturally this has seen prices rocket with some of the most unique types reaching around £500 a kilo on the black market.
The season runs from December to February and today the most common method used to track down truffles is with a dog that sniffs out the location of them and alerts the owner.
Of course the classic image of a truffle hunter is one of a farmer accompanied by a sow that is attracted to the smell of the truffles, as it is meant to resemble a pig’s sex pheromones.
Another method is to look out for tell-tale bare ground at the foot of oak trees and when a twig is brushed over the area a plume of white flies will rise into the sunshine.
Should you be lucky enough to track down a truffle or two what can you do with them?
For something so valuable the first thing to be aware of is to handle your truffle with care, lightly wash the outside to remove any soil and pat dry.
One of the classic ways to enjoy truffles is to place them alongside half-a-dozen eggs for a couple of days and allow them to infuse their flavour into the eggs.
Another is to shave off small quantities into soups or sauces just before eating, or place slices under the skin of a chicken the night before roasting it.
Have you been lucky enough to track down a truffle or two; in what whys have you enjoyed the ‘black diamond’?
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