What Is a White Truffle?

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White truffles, rare fungi that are known to chefs and foodies as the diamonds of the kitchen, are one of the most highly prized--and expensive--ingredients in the world.

Identification

  • White truffles resemble potatoes, Carla Ranicki of Forbes notes, but they have a marbled and veined interior with a musky, earthy odor and a savory, meaty taste. White truffles grow symbiotically with the roots of trees such as the poplar, willow and lime, according to Arthur Boehm of the Los Angeles Times.

Geography

  • Mostly associated with the Piedmont region of Italy and often found in Alba, white truffles are also found in northern Croatia, according to Ranicki.

Value

  • White truffles sell for thousands of U.S. dollars per pound. Exceptionally large truffles have fetched high prices at auction. In 2007, one truffle that weighed 3.3 lbs. was auctioned for $330,000.

Uses

  • White truffles are not normally cooked, according to Ranicki. They are usually shaved very thinly to top pasta dishes, eggs and salads.

Fun Fact

  • Although white truffles were once hunted using truffle hogs, dogs are now used because they can be trained not to eat the prized fungi, according to the North American Truffling Society.

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