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How to buy the best fresh truffle without breaking the bank.

Updated on April 7, 2011

Why are truffles so expensive?

A fresh truffle is a fungus that grows in the roots of certain trees in certain climates with certain soils. It grows in harmony with the tree, in a relationship that is called "Symbiotic".

Fresh truffles are very valuable as a culinary ingredient because of their strong aroma, often through to be an aphrodisiac and the price is maintained because of the difficulty of cultivation - particularly the cultivation of the White Alba Truffle.

Because of their cost buying a small quantity of truffle is virtually impossible, and a kilo will set you back thousands of pounds!


Truffle hunting with a pig - Dangerous work!

How to spot a quality truffle

Fresh Truffles have a notoriously short shelf life.  This is one of the other reasons that they are very expensive.  The value in a truffle is in the aroma, for the scientist among you, this is a sulpher compound with similarities to the scent of a female pig.  Freshness is key.

SMELL

The aroma of the truffle dissapears really quickly.  The aroma should be pungent.  If you're not able to immediately smell something, then either the truffle is old and no good or even worse it is not a truffle.

WATCH OUT FOR FAKES

There are a lot of Chinese truffles entering the market being sold as black truffles.  They aren't good for cooking.  All you need to do is smell it to see if it's real.  This is more of a problem with black truffle that white truffle.

How much truffle do you need to buy?

Fresh truffles are pungent. That means you don't actually need a lot of truffle for one person to get the wow of the aroma.

The strength of the aroma does depend on the type of truffle and when in the season you buy it. Like any fresh food, truffles have a peak. For Black Winter Truffles this is in January - So save some money from Christmas! Or spend it all on White Alba Truffles which peak in December.

The potency of truffles is decending order is:

  • White Alba Truffles
  • Black Winter Truffles (Also called Black Perigord Truffles)
  • Spring White Truffle
  • Burgundy Truffle
  • Summer Truffles

For a starter you would need 5g of White Alba Truffle and maybe 15g of summer truffle per person.

For a main meal you would need 10g of White Alba Truffle and maybe 30g of summer truffle per person.

To buy truffle by the gram in just the quantity you need you can use the new Mister Truffle service. It's the only place in the UK that sells truffle by the gram, down to just 1 single gram.

Pongy Spring White Truffles

You really need smell-o-vision to appreciate White Spring Truffles.
You really need smell-o-vision to appreciate White Spring Truffles. | Source

When are truffles available?

Fresh truffles are seasonal and there are different types of truffle available all year.

  • January - Black Winter Truffle
  • February - Black Winter Truffle
  • March - Black Winter Truffle and Bianchetto Truffle
  • April - Bianchetto Truffle
  • May - Summer Truffle
  • June - Summer Truffle
  • July - Summer Truffle
  • August - English Truffle
  • September - White Alba Truffle and Burgundy Truffle
  • October - White Alba Truffle and Burgundy Truffle
  • November - White Alba Truffle and Black Winter Truffle
  • December - White Alba Truffle and Black Winter Truffle



Famous Truffle Locations

A
Home of the White Alba Truffle:
12051 Alba Cuneo, Italy

get directions

Alba is the home of the most famous Truffle: the White Alba Truffle, or for the latin lovers "Tuber Magnatum".

B
Black Perigord Truffle:
24000 Périgueux, France

get directions

Perigord is the home of the Black Perigord Truffle, also know as the Black Winter Truffle, or for the latin lovers "Tuber Melanosporum".

Test your knowledge on buying a fresh truffle

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    • profile image

      Thray 

      3 years ago

      - Hi Claire and Juan! I am so happy to have found your site on Tasteologie. We have a lot in common! My edcautional background is in architecture, although I recently decided to pursue photography as a career. I also write Bella Eats, and wish that I had started while I was in grad school at UVA. Your photographs and site are really, really lovely. I look forward to continuing to follow your adventures!

    • jojokaya profile image

      jojokaya 

      7 years ago from USA

      Great hub...

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