By Si-Ziga

Truffles do not simply come in chocolate flavor. In fact, to the gourmet cook, a truffle is a delicacy that is far more valuable. A type of fungus that resembles a large, muddy stone, truffles can sell for up to $40 per gram.

But What are Pig Truffles?

Pig truffles get their name from the pigs that are typically used to forage for the truffles – not because they come from the pigs themselves! The pig truffles only grow in a few select places. They can be found in a few woodlands of France and Italy and in North America, in Washington and Oregon. It is because of the scarcity of the pig truffles, along with the time that it takes to find the truffles that make pig truffles one of the most expensive gourmet foodstuffs on the planet.

The pig's innate sense of smell means that they are able to locate buried truffles as deep as three feet under the ground. The pigs are trained to forage on a leash and walk with the farmer or forager to sniff out the tasty treats, which grow under the forest trees, close to the tree trunks. These days, trained dogs, as well as pigs, are used to forage for pig truffles. Truffle season lasts from the end of autumn through to early spring and an average day's yield may deliver no more than a handful of pig truffles, which is why they are so expensive.

Pig truffles are most commonly white or black in color, although other gray and brown pig truffles also exist, it is the black and the white that are the most prized. Because of the high cost and limited shelf life of pig truffles, a popular alternative in dishes is to use truffle oil, that has been infused with the fungus. These days, you can also find truffle flour, truffle honey and even truffle salt, all infused with the distinctive pig truffle smell and taste.

Otherwise, fine, small slivers of uncooked pig truffle are used to impart the distinctive flavor into dishes. In addition to fresh truffle, it is also sold in small jars, where it is preserved in salt water. You would use pig truffles with certain meats, pasta and eggs, and, in gourmet restaurants, it's a popular addition to dishes, to give that luxuriant and opulent finishing touch.

Pig truffles do not taste dissimilar to mushrooms, but with a far more intense taste. White truffles have a creamy flavor, while black truffles have an earthy, nutty taste.