White truffles, also known as Alba truffles, are the monarchs of truffles. They are one of the most sought-after and expensive delicacies in the world. But there are different types: on the one hand, the well-known white Alba truffle, also called Tuber Magnatum Pico. On the other hand the Bianchetto truffle, Tuber Borchii Vittadini. But what are the differences?
Alba truffles (Tuber magnatum pico) are white truffles that grow in Italy, especially in the Langhe, in Monferrato in Piedmont and in the Apennine area in central and southern Italy. They owe their name to the small Piedmontese commune of Alba. They grow especially in the deep forests of the Langhe, a fertile area in Piedmont that lies between the Tanaro river, Po river, the Alps and the Apennines. Le Langhe is made up of rolling hills with vineyards and hilltop towns known for producing fine wines, cheeses and - of course - truffles. However, these little treasures also grow in other northern regions of Italy, in France and in Istria.
These exotic mushrooms are very expensive and are traditionally used in haute cuisine. So if you want to cook something very special, you should definitely try the white Alba truffles!
The Bianchetto truffle or Tuber Borchii Vittadini, is widely spread in Italy as well as in Europe. It grows in different types of soil, ranging from the coasts to the hilly and mountainous regions up to 1000 meters above sea level. In the Italian regions the Bianchetto is mainly found among the coastal coniferous and deciduous forests. Host plants include the oaks, hornbeams, poplars, beeches, hazelnut plants, willows, linden trees and various species of the pine family.
If you want to taste the white truffle, now is the ideal time, because it is available only in the coldest months of the year. They are collected every year from October to December.
Alba truffles have been known in Europe for centuries. During the Renaissance they became a popular luxury item often chosen as gifts for kings and princes. Today it is still one of the most expensive foods in the world.
Truffle is the common name for the fruiting bodies (sporocarps) of mushrooms of the genus Tuber, whose entire life cycle takes place in the soil. They can live only in symbiotic relationships with certain trees. The white truffles are particularly popular because they have a very intense and aromatic flavor.
The special aroma of Tuber Magnatum Pico comes from the fact that its mycelia - the hairy filaments that make up mushrooms - are more closely connected to the roots of deciduous trees than in other varieties. This promotes the exchange of nutrients and aromatic substances between the mushroom and the tree, giving the plant its incomparable aroma. In addition, it is also very healthy, as it is rich in vitamins and minerals. Thus it contains among others, vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, as well as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. The alba truffle has an incredibly intense flavor and aroma, which makes it a unique ingredient for many dishes.
Alba truffles are one of the most sought-after and expensive delicacies in the world. Their rare occurrence makes them a very desirable commodity, on top of that the annual harvest of Alba truffles is highly dependent on the weather. The increasingly dry climate makes the growth difficult and too much rain makes them rot. Therefore, it is often difficult to predict the size of the annual harvest - which of course affects their price.
White truffles are traditionally served with pasta, risotto or carpaccio. They should always be enjoyed raw, grated in thin slices directly over pasta, risotto or polenta. Under no circumstances should you cook or heat them up - this destroys the flavor, as this truffle has a high water content. One of the most traditional ways to serve white truffle in Piedmont is the so-called "Tajarin", very thin pasta doused with melted butter. A little insider tip: to intensify the taste, you can add very little oil to the dish.