Truffle Grades: What They Mean and Why They Matter

Truffles are an exotic and delicious food with a high market value, but not all truffles are priced equally. Truffles prices vary depending on size, color, and grade.

truffle grades

Truffles are graded according to a series of criteria, including hue, weightage, and aroma. These grades are used to determine the cost of an individual truffle.

For more about truffle grading and the way it influences truffle prices, read on.

Are There Different Truffle Grades?

Truffles are graded according to a number of factors, the prime one being weight. The more pricey truffles are always the larger ones.

However, the final grade of a truffle is dependent on type, condition, aroma, and quality as well as size.

What Are The Different Truffle Grades?

Truffle grades are determined by the Truffle Board, and the grade helps determine truffle prices. The official grades are as follows:

Extra Class (Extra):

These are large truffles, among the largest harvested in a given year. The outer shell must be intact, and the truffle itself must be regularly shaped with minimal defects.

Extra Class truffles will possess a strong fragrance, but not too strong, with all the signs of ripeness, but no signs of mold over-ripeness or decay.

First Class (Class I):

Truffles of good quality, but not the best quality, with slight defects. These are also somewhat medium-sized truffles and may have a somewhat irregular shape.

Second Class (Class II):

These are smaller truffles, with noticeable defects, or odd shapes. They may not be the same color as representative truffles of their class, or they may simply be too small to qualify for higher class grading.

Pieces (Pieces):

Truffles in this class are extremely small, and damaged. The shell on these truffles may be broken to expose the flesh inside.

Truffles in this class may also have insect damage, or have pieces missing.

Shavings (Shavings):

These are very tiny truffles, or pieces of truffles, which aren’t large enough to be graded on a larger basis. These are usually less than 5 grams in size.

Shavings are usually used for things like truffle oil or truffle salt.

What Factors Are Involved In Determining a Truffle Grade?

There are many factors involved in truffle grading to determine the quality of a truffle, and prices vary depending on the result. Factors for truffle grading are:

  • Size: Extra Class truffles are generally upwards of 30 grams, whereas Shavings and Pieces are usually under 5 grams.
  • Aroma: A good, earthy fragrance, not too strong, with no hint of mold or mildew will earn a higher grade.
  • Shape and Development: Higher grade truffles are fully ripened when harvested, mostly spherical, or matching the shape of prime specimens.
  • Condition: Higher-grade truffles are intact, with minimal blemishes, no damage to the outer shell, and minimal signs of insect activity or decay.
  • Taste: Different types of truffles possess different flavors, with some flavors more prized than others.

How Do The Grades of Truffle Affect Truffle Prices?

Higher-grade truffles command a higher avg price on the market. Truffles are sold by the pound as well as by the ounce, so a grade helps determine their oz avg price and lb avg price.

However, the grade is only part of what determines the price of this delicious fungi. Specific truffles sell for more per pound than others.

Factors Determining Truffle Value

For example, the rare Italian white truffles go on the market for hundreds of dollars per ounce, whereas a Chinese black truffle, even of the highest class, might only command five to ten dollars per ounce.

The reason for these differences in price has to do with the rarity of each variety of truffle, where and when each fungus grows, and how difficult they are to harvest, versus how in demand they are.

8 Most Expensive Truffles in the World –

According to, these are some of the most expensive truffles in the world, both in individual truffles and truffle types.

  1. Dubai’s Truffles
  2. Stanley Ho’s Truffle
  3. The Giant Italian White Truffle
  4. The Russian Billionaire Truffles
  5. Sotheby’s Massive Italian Truffle
  6. The Rare Black Truffle
  7. The Record-Breaking Small White Truffle
  8. Oregon Truffles

These truffles are some of the benchmarks for the truffle industry, and the goal all truffle hunters hope to find when they’re searching among the trees for this luxury food.

The Record-Breaking Small White Truffle

A variety of the Tuber Magnatum was sold for roughly $151 for 0.7 grams worth of truffle, meaning it sold for over a million dollars per pound.

This small fungus is used often in cooking eggs and served over egg and pasta dishes.

Sotheby’s Massive Italian Truffle

This was a huge fungus of the top grade, one of the largest of the Tuber Magnatum ever found. It sold for $61,250 at an auction.

This large fungus was ground and served over a pasta dish called polenta – or rather, several dishes, given the size.

The Giant Italian White Truffle

Known as White Alba Truffles, these are some of the rarest truffles in the world, also known as white gold, with a short growing season and only a small region in Italy in which they can be found.

The Giant White Italian Truffle, one of the largest of this variety ever found, was sold for $118,000 in Italy.

The delicate flavor of the truffle was then used to season creamy pasta dishes and risotto

The Rare Black Truffle

Also known as the Winter Black Truffle or Tuber Melanosporum, or the Perigord Truffle, these are habitually sold at around $800 per pound.

The rich flavor is often used to enhance dishes like risotto, roasted chicken, or assorted pasta dishes.

Truffle Prices in 2021 (Retail)

Each year, truffle hunters go looking underground for these fungi, hoping to find mature fresh truffles to sell. With different species growing at different seasons, these hunters and their specially trained dogs can be employed year-round in the search for these delicacies.

White truffles and black truffles both grow in both winter and summer, and the different seasons offer different tastes and are sold for different prices.

Truffle Varieties

There are three main varieties of truffle growing. In order of rarity, these are:

  • White truffle
  • Burgundy Truffle
  • Black Truffle

In addition, the types are divided by season: Winter and Summer

Prices For Truffle Species Common to the Market

These are some of the prices for 5 of the most common truffle types being sold, as of 2021:

  • Tuber Magnatum (Italian White Truffle) – $212 per ounce.
  • Tuber Melanosporum (Winter Black Truffle) – $20.50 per ounce
  • Tuber Uncinatum (Winter Burgundy Truffle) – $25 per ounce
  • Tuber Aestivum (Summer Black Truffle) – $22.60 per ounce
  • Tuber Indicum (Chinese Black Truffle) – $5 per ounce

There are other truffle varieties being sold, out there, harvested throughout southern Europe, northern Italy, and US locations like Oregon, but these are the most popular.

Where to Buy Truffles

Truffles and truffle products can be purchased through a variety of forums, especially gourmet food stores. Ordering truffles online might give access to truffles straight from Europe, but also leaves you open to getting second-rate products.

Some things to be aware of, if you’re shopping for truffles:

  • Truffles have a short shelf life – Summer Black Truffles being sold in winter are not likely to be high quality.
  • Know what flavor profile you’re after – Tuber Aestivum and Tuber Melanosporum don’t taste the same.
  • The average prices for different types of truffles – if somewhere is selling white truffles for significantly less than average white truffle prices, it might be a reason to be wary.

How much truffle should you buy?

How much truffle you should buy depends on what you need to buy. Unless you’re running a high-end restaurant with a large clientele base and a lot of use for them, you don’t want to buy a lot of truffles at one time.

If you’re simply experimenting with the flavor for personal cooking, then it’s best to purchase a few small truffles or a few ounces of truffles at a time.

A Look At The Truffle Market And Its Influence On Prices

The truffle market is in high demand but doesn’t have a steady or high level of supply. Even selling items with truffle flavors like truffle oils, there are far more people who want truffles, than there are truffles to be sold.

The result – white truffles and black truffles are being sold at top prices, and they’re not likely to drop any time soon.

Are truffles under threat by climate change?

Every year, truffles grow rarer and rarer, and the prices rise higher and higher. The reason for this is climate change, which is slowly eliminating the environment they prefer.

Truffles prefer to grow underground near certain trees and during specific months. Like mushrooms, they also prefer high-moisture environments.

Likewise, many of them have a very short growing season, which further raises the price.

Final Thoughts

Mushroom and truffle prices are often dependent on the quality, and differing grades of truffles are worth different prices. The price for a low-grade truffle is likely to be about half the price of a top-grade truffle, no matter what the season.

Andrea Arthur