Truffles, long held as a particularly French delicacy sniffed out by well-trained pigs, could possibly become a U.S. staple if a large enough number of experimental growers can successfully cultivate the fungus, according to NPR.
Tom Michaels, owner of Tennessee Truffle, has been growing black Perigord truffles on oak and hazel trees since 2007 using a new technique devised in France. He says about 200 truffle orchards are in development in the United States, many in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. But because it takes years before truffles appear, the success of these orchards is not yet certain. “The next few years are the moment of truth,” he tells NPR.
Perigord truffles, which can cost up to $800 a pound, are difficult to cultivate, even in France. And by the time these pricey European truffles arrive in the United States, their flavors have already started to weaken. NPR explains, “Among palatable varieties, the Perigord is considered the crown jewel and, accordingly, is known as the “black diamond” truffle. It’s prized for its pungent aroma, a delicate mix of fruit, musk, and earth.”