I keep hearing mixed messages. Most people seem to say that it is legal to bring truffles back into the U.S.
But my local Italian grocer -- who visits every year and imports them -- says it's absolutelty illegal and the fines are huge. I do trust that he's not just trying to scam me to buy his. That's not to think that he's not wrong, however.
Does anyone know? Or, does anyone know where I can go to get the rules of the game?
Thanks. We go in late November. We hope to bring extra suitcases!
Posts: 649 | Location: Logan, Utah, USA | Registered: 02 June 2006
This page on the US Customs Service website includes truffles among the "general list of approved products". Make sure they are free of soil, and be sure to declare them. If they are taken away, well then you lose (and with that in mind, don't spend too much on them!), but it's better than being fined for trying to smuggle. Let's face it - no human, much less a sniffer hound, is going to miss that scent!
You could also send a query to your local customs service, and get a reply in writing confirming whether or not you can bring them in, then you'd have documentation to back you up. If there's not time for that, I'd certainly advise that you print out that webpage and carry it with you.
If nothing else, the bottled summer truffles (not as good as the real thing, I know), or the bottled truffle sauce (which are a mixture of regular mushrooms with about 10% summer truffle, not great, but decent, and better than nothing) should certainly be legal to bring in. Good luck!
Edited to add: Fibonacci, that's sobering, especially since the website says that many items from Canada are permitted. Guess it all comes down to: it depends on who is checking that day.
I will echo Kim C in that US Customs site does say truffles are allowed, I would be careful to pack them, maybe in first a tissue and then cling film or a jar, and of course declare them as you would any excess bottles of wine. However one should keep in mind that as soon as truffles come out of the ground they start degenerating, the fresher the better. An interesting solution is to make a bottle of truffle oil (or buy one ready made),by shaving a truffle into a bottle of oil, keep it refrigerated and it will last for a reasonable time and add that dash of truffle aroma to whatever dish you want.
So I don't know what to make of this. Guests of ours have bought truffles home with them without consfication, I guess it would help to have the print-out of the web-page as well as maybe check before you leave. I don't think that you could bring bacteria into the country on a truffle which is actually a kind of fungus not really a plant and will be eaten subito. And to the best of my knowledge its virtually impossible to seed trufles, especially the white truffles famous in Piedmont (as well as Umbria, Marche, Tuscany, Slovenia and Crotia), people have tried and it hasn't worked. Are there truffles in USA which could be devastated by an attack of some awful virus carried on our precious tartufi? Actually I have heard of Tuber gibbosum, the so called Oregon white truffle, but I would think we would be more concerned over here with truffle diseases given the high price of white truffles in season. Remember phyloxefera, or for that matter odium or peronospera? (all 3 vine disorders were imported to Europe from American vineyards in the 1800's).
But I digress and don't want to advocate breaking any laws, just thowing this out for debate.
I would not make my own truffle oil. I live among truffle hunters and I could, but I don't. If you buy truffle oil, as I do, read the ingredients. The real thing says tartufi or aromi di tartufi. The fake says just aromi. They both taste good, though. It's more getting what you pay for to me. Some acquaintances of mine here have a truffle processing business and they do many good things. Read your labels. The ingredients are according to the % of finished product.