What To Look Out For When Buying Fresh Truffles

Coveted for their unparalleled flavor and rarity, fresh truffles are among the most prized ingredients chefs can work with. That said, truffles are notably some of the most expensive food items around; depending on the type of fungus you're springing for, you could be spending as much as $300 an ounce. With that in mind, you can't exactly be a casual shopper when snagging a few precious truffles. So how should you go about getting the best bang for your buck with this exquisite delicacy?

It begins with tapping into your senses, specifically those of smell, touch, and sight. Like with delicious fresh apples, strawberries, or peaches, a healthy truffle will tell you it's in good shape with a strong aromatic smell, a firm texture, and a clean surface. Of course, there are specific nuances to each of these factors, so let's break down what exactly you need to be looking, smelling, and feeling for.

Use your senses to test your truffle

First up, give your prospective truffle a good sniff. A high quality truffle will have an intense smell, which you can think of as an aromatic preview of what the truffle will taste like. That scent and incurring flavor will be distinctly earthy, much like other mushrooms. Next, give your truffle a gentle feel, checking for any soft spots, which may hint at rot. A healthy truffle will be slightly dense and firm, with no softness to be had. Finally, give that craggy surface a proper visual scan. As truffles are grown underground, a freshly harvested one may be packing some sandy bits in the crevices along its surface. Every bit of grit will need to be removed from that exterior (oftentimes with a needle so you don't harm the truffle itself) before you can enjoy it, so be sure you're picking a truffle that has already been cleaned for you.

Once you go through this checklist, you've accomplished the hard part of working with truffles: finding the best ones. All you need to do next is add them to your favorite meal, but no roasting! Whether it's pasta, risotto, or even scrambled eggs, by keeping it simple you'll get to experience the unique luxury of the fresh truffle's flavor.