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In restaurants across the world the smell of fresh white truffle currently permeates the air. Chefs are clambering to get hold of the underground gems that are about to hit the height of their short 12-week season.
The white truffle hunters have been out in Alba, Italy, trusty pigs at their side and white truffles are currently being sold and flown across the globe ready to be shaved on top of a wonderful array of dishes - most containing eggs.
The rare white truffles from Alba are still one of the culinary world's greatest delicacies and with a simple layer of the coveted fungus elevating a dish to entirely new heights, it's no surprise that so many people are eager to get their hands on them.
Buying your own truffle can be a little daunting - currently trading at around $4-6 a gram, the last thing you want is to get home, open your truffle case and realize you've bought a dud. That's why we've decided to bring you these five tips from Paolo Montanaro who owns Tartuf Langhe. A family owned company that is the oldest seller of fresh white truffle in Alba, operating since 1968.
5 Tips for Picking a Perfect White Truffle
1: Close your eyes, take your truffles and smell them, don't look at the truffle because the visual is not as important as the smell. The best smell means the best truffle - when you buy truffle you're buying the pungent gas that the truffles give off not the shape or the size.
2: With the fingers, slowly squeeze the truffles - don't press too much as this may damage them but if the truffle feels very soft then it means it's old, you're looking for a nice firm feel between the fingers.
3: If you have two truffles around the same size but can't decide which one to buy try to balance them both in your hands. The heavier truffle is the best because it means it contains more water and is fresher. Size does not matter and has no effect on the overal taste of a truffle.
4: If the truffle is broken, it's not a problem. A lot of people who see holes in truffles think they must be infested with insects and therefore avoid them but these are actually the ones that snails have chosen - snails are actually the ones who know when the truffle is really good so small holes usually signify a really potent truffle.
5: When you buy truffle it's important to take a look at how much soil is on the truffle. Most truffles will be sold with soil around them because this helps to keep them fresh but be careful as some clever traders may sell you truffle with lots of weight added from the soil. If you have chosen a truffle using all the steps above but it seems to have a lot of soil on the outside ask the trader to remove this before it's weighed.