black truffle
Westend61 / Getty Images
Westend61 / Getty Images

8 Important Rules for Buying Truffles Without Getting Ripped Off

Humor me. Let’s just pretend you’re thinking about buying a truffle. I mean, aren’t you a little curious about that? Take a peek with me into that world.

While I was researching this guide to truffles, one thing became very clear to me: Buying truffles is in itself an intensely sensory experience, apart from consuming them with a meal. So look at buying truffles through that lens, through the experience of choosing and paying your hard-earned money for these magical little knobs. Because it damn well better be an experience. Do not, I repeat, do not buy truffles online. Buy them in person, and make it a whole event. Set aside a whole afternoon, maybe even a day, to do it. Make it special.

Herewith, the rules for buying truffles:

  • Buy truffles in person, not online. 
  • Trust your nose, as Eataly’s VP of Global Partnerships and Piemonte native Dino Borri told me: “If the smell is intense, it’s good. The taste comes later, but first there is the smell.” 
  • Buy them as directly from the importer or grower as possible. Ask your favorite truffle-serving chef to connect you with their broker. 
  • Pick up the truffles and turn them around in your hands. They should be very firm and a little heavy. Check for any soft spots.
  • Check also for cracks filled with soil. It’s going to be a pain to pick all that dirt out with a needle; plus, you’re paying a fortune for that soil. 
  • Buy when you’re ready to use, preferably that day. 
  • Ask as many questions as you want to. Where are they from? How old are they?
  • Don’t buy a truffle that doesn’t “wow” you.

Admit It, You’ve Always Wondered What the Big Deal Is With Truffles

By Adriana Velez

Everything you need to know to go out and try truffles, including the different types and important questions to ask. Click here for the full story...

Some specialty shops put their truffles on sale near the holidays. Eataly has “Truffle Days” on November 27 (all stores), December 22 (New York Flatiron, Chicago, LA) and December 23 (Downtown New York, Boston) and December 27 (Las Vegas), when you can buy them at cost.

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Adriana Velez is a food editor at Thrillist.