Part of the reason why truffles are so expensive is because they are found naturally, and are very hard to locate. Truffles must be picked and found by hand, which is very labor intensive. A specially trained dog can also be used to locate the mushrooms. Because truffles require a symbiotic relationship with the roots of a specific tree, there is a limited number of places the mushroom can grow. All of these reasons, in addition to the high demand for a low supply, make truffles one of the most expensive foods in the world.
Truffles require very specific circumstances to grow. The trees which they grow beneath in Europe must be planted and harvested regularly to produce truffles. This is because one tree will only begin to yield truffles after 7 years of growth. After that, they produce truffles for 15 to 30 years if conditions are right. The only way to know if a truffle is ripe and ready for eating is by its smell. Humans have a difficult time detecting a ripe truffle, so they need dogs or pigs to smell them out. After a ripe one is detected, it must reach its market almost immediately to retain flavor. It is often difficult to get truffles to market before their taste, and therefore value, decreases. Stores and restaurants will fly them in overnight for sale the following day. For these reasons and more, fresh truffles are considered a delicacy in many countries.
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