White Truffle knowledge: Why white truffles are expensive?

What are White Truffles?

Truffle is a species of the genus Tuber that grows in close association with trees such as oak, chestnut, hardwood, poplar, willow, and linden. It is a fruiting body of a fungus that is considered to be a rare delicacy. Truffles are one of the world's priciest food and there are many varieties but the most expensive is the Tuber Magnatum specie from Alba. This species is commonly called White Truffle or Piedmonte Truffle. It is found in northern Italy and growing in a soil rich in calcium carbonate. White Alba Truffles are rounded and larger than the other species. It can grow as big as 9 centimeters in diameter which is part of the reason why it is one of the most desired of all truffles. It has a solid flesh with outer color that is pale gold. Aside from the size and limited quantity, Alba Truffles are also desired for the quality of taste and its delicate pleasant aroma. It is so good that it can be eaten raw.

a white truffle cut in half

How to find white truffles?

In order to be a truffle hunter, one needs to understand the conditions in which truffles would thrive. Many factors affect the growth of truffles. One important factor is the soil where a truffle tree is planted. It has to be moist with a pH level between 7.5 and 8.3. White truffles especially Tuber Magnatum likes growing in calcareous-clay soil. Another important factor is the process of photosynthesis. A truffle tree through its roots can provide carbohydrates to the fungus. This exchange of resources will enable the truffles to grow. These conditions make it difficult or impossible for truffles to thrive and form in unsuitable areas. In the past, this rare delicacy was hunted by employing pigs for these animals are drawn to truffles. The problem with this is that truffles smell and taste so good that pigs always end up eating the expensive truffles. To solve the problem, truffle hunters trained dogs as an alternative.

dogs are truffles seeker

What is the taste of white truffle?

White truffles are adored for its strong aromatic musky flavor and mild garlic essence. Similar to mushrooms, this golden tuber has an earthy flavor from its center. It can be shaved in slices over dishes such as pasta, risotto, or any meal. Unlike the other type of truffles, white truffles can be eaten raw and it can transform any dish into a feast for the palate.

sliced white truffles added into pasta

Why is it more expensive than black truffle?

The rarity and the milder taste of the white truffles are the reasons why it is more expensive than black truffles. Black truffles have a more intense taste compared to its counterpart. Also, truffles do not grow in unfavorable conditions and are difficult to find. Truffle hunters need to spend time and effort to train dogs or pigs that would sniff and help them find the truffles. And once they do find it, it is not going to be a lot especially the white truffles. They will only find a few ounces per location. The price of white truffles are comparable to diamonds and indeed one of the most expensive ingredients in the Culinary World. Black truffles are more common than white truffles. Much more than its black counterpart, white truffles are more affected by the natural conditions. It doesn't have a protective shell and its exposure to elements makes it susceptible to the harms of the harsh environment. This makes the white truffles limited and more valuable than the black truffles.

comparing white truffle and black truffle


When is the season of harvesting the white truffles?

The effort to try and domesticate the white truffles are like a hopeless cause. White truffles continue to be regional and are only found in select areas in Italy, France, and Croatia. The best and largest truffles however are harvested in Alba which is a small Piemontese township. September to December is the harvesting season of White Alba Truffles. Its peak season is from late October to November. This is the time when they grow larger in Langhe forest. It is an area near the Tanaro and Po rivers where the soil is mainly clay and marl. The perfect conditions of this fertile area allow the white truffles to grow to their full potential.