It is known as one of the most precious gifts from Mother Nature: truffles (松露;塊菌). They are raved by many for their unique aroma. They are also a mystery because they are rare and extremely expensive, especially the white truffles.
Black Truffles cost $3,000 NTD per oz. (28 grams), White Truffles cost $5,000 NTD per oz.HANNAH KEYSER : Why Are Truffles So Expensive?
But recently, several new types of black and white truffles have been found in Taiwan. These new variety of truffles are indigenous to Taiwan and have never been known to the scientific or culinary world. The 4 new types are:
* Tuber Piceanum 雲杉塊菌
* Tuber Elevatireticulatum 深脈塊菌
* Tuber Tropicum 熱帶塊菌 in Taitung
* Tuber (tbd) 白塊菌 in Kaohsiung
Researcher Fu of Taiwan Forestry Research Institute shared the secret to their discovery. A research team visited Yunnan, China to study truffles in China. They found that truffles are usually found in chalky soil with the optimal pH 6.5-8.0 in mountains between 2,200m to 3,000m altitude. Yunnan produces around 50% of truffles in China. The team brought the knowledge back to Taiwan and decided on several spots to look for truffles. At last, they found the “Holy Grail” of Taiwanese truffles.
According to Hannah Keyser, female pigs traditionally were used to find the rare truffles because of the truffles’ unique testosterone smell. But, the pigs tended to eat the truffles! Later, dogs were trained to seek out the truffles.
The research team plan to build a few agricultural experimental areas across Taiwan to study and hopefully produce truffles in the future. Let’s hope to see these buried treasures on the dining tables in the coming years.
*All Photos Licensed as Creative Commons