The Reason White Truffles Are More Expensive Than Black Truffles

Truffles are prized around the world. The fungi referred to as "the diamond of the kitchen" by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in his 1825 book "The Physiology of Taste" has an earthy taste, a one-of-a-kind aroma and are considered a gourmet specialty item due to their high price.

When you think of truffles, you may think of the pigs that were used to find them deep in the forest. Today, truffle hunters use specially trained dogs to find truffles after discovering that canines were less likely to eat their treasure — and their profits. According to the American Kennel Club, there's even an annual truffle hunting competition for those unique fungi-finding canines.

The most popular truffle used in home kitchens is the black truffle. While not inexpensive, they are not nearly as costly as the rarer white truffle. To give you an idea of the price difference between the two, black truffles can be purchased for around $50 to $100 per ounce (per, but white truffles can go for exorbitant prices. Three white truffles sold at an auction in 2017 went for over $87,000.

But why?

Why so expensive?

There are a couple of explanations for the high cost of white truffles. While black truffles are prevalent in Australia, China, some European countries, and a handful of states in the U.S., white truffles are not as common. They can only be found in two places — Serbia and Italy (via South China Morning Post).

According to the article, while black truffles have successfully been grown outside their natural environments, white truffles cannot be cultivated, leaving their very existence in the fickle hands of Mother Nature.

Forbes expands on this line of thinking, explaining that the high price of white truffles is due to their structure lacking a way to protect them from the elements. The outer shell of a white truffle is fragile and can be easily destroyed by harsh weather conditions or a rain shortage. Those weather conditions also affect the soil quality, which in turn affects the truffles.

Truffles in the kitchen

Enjoying truffles at home doesn't need to be expensive. This recipe for Wild Mushroom Risotto With Black Truffle Oil uses a variety of reasonably priced mushrooms such as porcinis and shiitakes but is finished with black truffle oil to impart the flavor and scent of truffles without the expense.

It's essential to read the label when shopping for truffle oil. Because truffles are relatively rare, many truffle oils contain artificial ingredients that mimic the unique scent to keep the price affordable. Product descriptions may refer to the oils having the essence or aroma of truffles but contain no actual truffles (per The New York Times).

If you decide to splurge on some truffles, add them to the recipe as a finishing touch before bringing the dish to the table. The heat of cooking can take away the potent and unforgettable aroma that has made truffles famous for centuries.