The white truffle, or Tuber Magnatum Pico, is universally considered the most prized type of truffle, it is appreciated all over the world for its intense and enveloping scent and its inestimable culinary qualities. This truly belongs to the excellence of Made in Italy, the white truffle has accompanied the Italian history since the Renaissance, where it first spread in the high-class Italian courts. In the past, its delicacy and rarity even made it a diplomatic tool, a gift of inestimable value that the Savoy family used to send to European sovereigns: especially the Count of Cavour used this approach to weave new political connections with other European leaders.
The fruiting body of the white truffles have a lot of irregularities, a fully globular truffle is a rarity, they have small and large swellings all over their surface. The peridio has a velvety feel with a typical yellow-ochre color which is where this truffle has its name from. The gleba is white with numerous marbled veins, when they mature the gelba’s color becomes greyish with reddish spots. Normal dimensions for these truffles are between two and nine centimeters.
the scent is the most distinctive feature of the white truffle. The smell of this mushroom is intense, with tones that vaguely recall the scent of grana cheese or fermented cheese.
The white truffles ripen between September and December, this is also the most suitable time for harvesting them. The trifolau, the people who collect truffles, mainly operate at night. This for two apparent reason, the first one is very obvious as they want to keep the areas they search in a secret, the second reason is because the trained dogs have much less distractions around them during night.
The white truffle prefers sedimentary soils with an abundance of marl, lime and chalk, with good aeration but with a constant level of humidity even in the driest seasons. The soil should be rich in potassium and poor in organic humus and other elements such as phosphor and nitrogen, slightly sloping and possibly close to watercourses. The height where these truffles are found does not exceed 700 meters above sea level. These characteristics are mainly found in Piedmont, particularly in the Langhe and Monferrato areas near Alba, in Istria, and in the central Italian Apennines, such as in the Marche, Umbria, Tuscany and Molise. This specimen can also be found in the Campania.
Like all hypogeal mushrooms, also the white truffle grows in symbiosis with a series of plants. These are the most common:
One of the aspects that this white truffle so famous around the world is precisely linked to its prices, sometimes to the point of insane prices. In annual auctions some of these truffles exceed prices of 100,000 €. These specimens often have exceptional sizes which only a few have, nevertheless this is a clear indicator that these truffles are the most expensive on the market. The average price for these are about 100 € per hectogram, although this figure fluctuates a lot depending on the harvest conditions of every year and the demand on the market.
The price of the white truffle, which usually is very high, is linked to its rarity. Its harvesting areas are limited to the Italian territory only - with the exception of Istria - and it is not easy to find this mushroom. Moreover, the white truffle is one of the few specimens that cannot be successfully cultivated and grown in farms.