Truffles are considerably rare, expensive, and highly sought-after in the culinary world – can they grow in Florida?
Truffles can and do grow in Florida, and there are even certain species that are native to the state. Although they’re very hard to find, they do tend to appear in plentiful enough amounts to be harvested, and there are even efforts to introduce sustainable, farmed variants to the area.
Read on to learn more about truffles and where they can be found in Florida.
The Tale Of The Truffle
There are few delicacies on Earth that are more storied and potentially mythical than truffles. They have a rich history that stretches back thousands of years, and once upon a time, they were thought to be magical, and powerful.
We can see traces of truffles having been consumed throughout history, as far back as with the Ancient Egyptians. There are tales and myths that resonate around the relatively unassuming, subterranean fungus.
For example, one story tells of a farmer who found his pig consuming truffles. He decided to partake in them as well, and his inability to father a child with his wife was removed almost overnight.
As the story goes, they went on to have more than a dozen children.
It doesn’t end there, though, as the stories transcend eras. The Greeks, Romans, medieval European royalty, they’ve all got their tales to tell.
Some thought they occurred when lightning struck the others, others thought they offered ‘eternal health’ to the soul and body. The taste and aroma of truffles were said to be so cherished that the church banned them in the Middle Ages, fearing them to be a work of the devil.
Today, truffles are a rare and expensive delicacy, with their scarcity driving up the cost to staggeringly high proportions. On some occasions, a single fine truffle (of a considerable weight) can sell for as much as one hundred thousand dollars.
That’s not an exaggerated figure either, as in 2018 an ‘exceptional’ white truffle was sold in Italy for ninety-six thousand dollars. It weighed around eight-hundred and fifty grams, a size almost never seen in the wild.
Truffles In The States
Pound for pound, truffles are one of the most expensive items of food in the world. They’re joined in those ranks by the likes of caviar, abalone, and bluefin tuna, all equally as sought-after and valuable.
Although they’re more commonly used in Middle Eastern and European cooking, they can and do occur naturally in the United States. Reportedly, they’re most commonly found around the mid-Atlantic regions, near North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.
However, in 2018 scientists stumbled upon two new species of truffle in Florida. They were – and have only since been – found in a very specific location, growing on the roots of the pecan trees that grew in Florida orchards.
It’s said that they were far from being the finest examples of truffles though, as they apparently had a foul smell. They were also too small to be worth too much, and they didn’t look all that appealing.
They’re a far cry from the delectable and sumptuous white truffles found throughout Italy, for example. These truffles sell for thousands of dollars, and they certainly don’t bear a foul smell about them.
Nature Of The Growth
Wild truffles are dramatically rare and take several years to grow. That’s the biggest contributor to their high value, which is also inflated by the difficulty found in simply locating them.
They grow just beneath or on the surface of the Earth, in soil that typically has a high alkaline content. Truffles need to have a specific climate, a good amount of space, and on top of that, they only occur around or on certain trees.
Traditionally, they’re ‘hunted’ rather than farmed, with ‘truffle hunters’ taking to the forests with a sack and a dog – or more typically, a pig. These animals are trained to sniff out the strong odor of the truffles and lead the hunters right to them.
As you can imagine, it’s not a sustainable or reliable way to gather them, as you never really know if you’re going to find what you’re looking for. Although, you could strike lucky and manage to find a supersize truffle that just happens to net you thousands of dollars.
It’s not a heavily protected venture, so you can explore forests and marshlands at your own free will, and see what you can uncover.