Although you might be mistaken for thinking so, we’re not talking about little white chocolate treats here, so what is a white truffle?
From the Alba truffle to the Bianchetta, white truffles are one of the most iconic and sought-after ingredients in the culinary world, and their distinct flavor is highly esteemed in many different dishes.
In this article, we’re going to describe exactly what a white truffle is, what varieties there are, where they grow, and how they can make a dish even more delicious.
What Are White Truffles?
First and foremost, we should talk about exactly what white truffles are. Truffles, in general, are the fruiting body of a fungus that grows underground. They usually grow to the size of eggs, and are famous for their distinct aroma and complex flavor, bringing a unique quality to food all over the world.
Truffles are found in two main varieties: white and black. There are a few other variations that are described as having different colors (like burgundy), and they are often referred to by the region and/or season in which they’re harvested.
That’s why you will often hear terms like Alba White Truffles, and Summer Truffles as well.
White Truffle vs Black Truffle
You might have seen one or other of these remarkable ingredients in a recipe or as part of a product on the grocery store shelves, but how are they actually different? What is it that sets a white truffle apart from a black truffle?
|Ranges from pale cream to fresh white. Usually have a relatively smooth surface.
|Ranges from medium brown to almost black. Usually have a rough surface with delicate white marbling inside.
|Stronger in flavor but quite subtle. Tang-like garlic, with notes of oak, pepper, and hazelnut.
|Deep, rich flavor that is earthy, musky, and pungent.
|A more pungent scent that fades quickly.
|Less pronounced but lasts longer.
|Value and Rarity
|Rare and valuable.
|More common and less expensive.
|Usually eaten fresh as a topping or garnish.
|Sometimes cooked into meals.
Who Are Truffle Hunters?
White truffles typically grow in a fertile area that consists of calcareous soil (lime-based and rich in minerals). They occur most often around the roots of hardwood trees – specifically the roots of oak, hazel, beech, and linden trees – in countries that have a temperate climate.
Where Do They Grow?
Although the quintessential landscape in which you would expect to find a white truffle is the rolling hills and mighty oaks of Italy, white truffles are found in many other places as well.
White truffles grow all across the continent, from the hilltop towns of northern Italy, all the way through to Eastern Europe. There is even a special, very similar, variety known as the Oregon White Truffle that grows in North America.
The quintessential White Alba Truffles, though, have a very specific birthplace. These Italian white truffles are found around the small town of Alba in Piedmont, Italy, where they gained their name.
What Are The Different Types?
You might be surprised to hear that there are more than 140 different varieties of truffle out there, but there are only a few that are particularly famous and valuable.
When it comes to the white truffle, the two most popular varieties are:
Sometimes known as the Alba Truffle, the Piedmont Truffle, or Tuber Magnatum Pico, this is the rarest, most expensive, and most highly sought-after type out there. They have delicate floral notes to taste and a strong aroma.
Also referred to as the Whitish Truffle or the Bianchetta, these are also Italian white truffles. They are more common and less flavorful than the Alba white truffle and have slightly darker coloring.
Alba white truffle season lasts from September to January, and they are most commonly found in October. The season for the more common “Whitish Truffle” lasts from mid-January through to April.
Cooking With Fresh Truffles
Although you might cook black truffles into a dish, white truffles are most commonly eaten as a fresh topping. You can almost treat them like parmesan cheese, and one of the best ways to enjoy them is to use a truffle shaver to scatter paper-thin slices onto your food.
They are delicious with dishes like pasta, risotto, and mashed potatoes – particularly when combined with butter.
Some of the finest risotto and pasta meals in Italy are highlighted by the strong scent and firm flesh of fresh truffle. In addition, truffles also have many benefits for your health.
White truffles have a pretty considerable reputation and for good reason. The Alba White Truffle, in particular, is known all over the world for its profound, complicated taste and distinctive scent.
If you’re looking to enjoy the truffle flavor, they can be quite expensive – particularly when compared to the more common and less sought-after black truffle.
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