How to Distinguish Between Perigord Black Truffles and Chinese Truffles

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Truffle retailer, Mirepoix USA, recommends consumers educate themselves about the differences between the prized Perigord truffle and the Chinese look-a-like black truffle.

Truffle Recipes: Black Truffle Potato Cake made with Perigord Black Truffles

Perigord black truffles are used to create this magnificent black truffle potato cake

Laurel Pine, Mirepoix USA’s founder explains, “Reputable truffle importers have systems in place to ensure no Chinese truffles make their way into the Perigord black truffle supply.

“Truffles: The Most Expensive Food in the World”, a recent segment on CBS News 60 Minutes, uncovered the threat of the influx of Chinese truffles masquerading as Perigord black truffles, their highly sought after European cousins. Mirepoix USA, the premier on-line source for French foods and specialty foods, urges consumers to learn about the numerous differences between the two varieties.

According to Mirepoix USA Truffles are almost synonymous with luxury; one of the most expensive foods in the entire world, truffles have a flavor which is inimitable and unmistakable. At least for most, they’re only found on the tables of expensive restaurants or in the kitchens of those who have the disposable income to purchase them for their own culinary pursuits. Perigord truffles are the black truffles found in and named for the Perigord region of Southwestern France. Of course, the key word here is found. Unlike other foods or even other edible fungi, for that matter, Perigord black truffles are virtually impossible to cultivate and must be found in the wild. These finest of truffles grow around the roots of hazelnut and oak trees and are harvested by hand (after being sniffed out by dogs), which only adds to their mystique as well as their expense.

However, as was recently reported on 60 Minutes, a lower priced pretender has come on to the scene as of late, namely the Chinese truffle. While it is indeed a relative of the Perigord black truffle, chefs and other truffle connoisseurs consider it to be at best a poor substitute for the real thing. These Asian truffles may appear very similar to Perigord truffles; so similar that unscrupulous merchants will try to pass them off as the real thing.

The similarity between the two truffle varieties ends with their physical resemblance. Once you shave off a bit of Chinese truffle, you’ll find that there is simply no comparison between these and the world famous Perigord black truffle. Especially with the demand for a very limited supply of European truffles at an all time high, consumers run a higher risk than ever of unwittingly buying Chinese truffles masquerading as the genuine article.

Since they do appear so similar until you look closely, consumers should be aware that these cheap imitations are becoming increasingly common in the marketplace and it’s best to choose only reliable suppliers from which to purchase Perigord black truffles. Laurel Pine, Mirepoix USA’s founder explains, “Reputable truffle importers have systems in place to ensure no Chinese truffles make their way into the Perigord black truffle supply. Some truffle importers go so far as to track every truffle back to its original source, allowing the importer to discontinue working with sources that supply anything but authentic Perigord truffles.”

Knowing the differences between Chinese truffles and Perigord truffles will give consumers additional confidence. Compared to Perigord truffles, Chinese truffles frequently appear to be darker, since they tend to have fewer of the lighter colored veins which are a distinguishing feature of true European black truffles. The veins present in Chinese truffles are also smaller. Additionally, Chinese truffles have a decidedly elastic feel to them which is a clear indicator that what's being offered is not what consumers may expect. However, it is the aroma of Perigord truffles which really make them one of a kind.

As tempting as they may be to the public with their significantly lower price tag ($100 per pound versus $2000 per pound for Perigord truffles), the truth is that there really is no substitute for the intoxicatingly rich aroma and flavor of real black Perigord truffles. Even though there’s nothing wrong with Chinese truffles in and of themselves, people who enjoy fine dining and cooking luxurious meals in their own homes need to be well aware that they are not at all the same thing as Perigord truffles. Mirepoix USA believes Perigord Black truffles are one of life’s great pleasures and people who want only the best on their table should get in the habit of demanding the real thing and the real thing only.


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Laurel Pine
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