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MY TOP 3 Professional TIPS for Selecting FRESH WHITE TRUFFLES

MY TOP 3 Professional TIPS for Selecting FRESH WHITE TRUFFLES

  1. Wild White Truffle Season 

During the fall-early winter harvest, nature showers us with her finest to be picked, collected, and enjoyed.  Wild truffles are no exception.  These subterranean tubers hide in dense forests underfoot in rich clay-based soils in symbiosis with very specific hardwood trees such as the oak, poplar, and hazel.  White truffles (aka – Tuber magnatum pico) are the rarest and most coveted of all truffle species.  Their rich earthy aromas and flavours are in full bloom during the months of September and January.  Since the millennia, rulers, dignitaries, bons vivants and world-class chefs have enjoyed white truffles as the main star on their dishes.    

Steeped in mystery and belief

The deep musky earth scent of the white truffle is deliriously attractive - awakening all the senses.  It’s not surprising then that in many circles, though unproven, white truffles are considered to have aphrodisiac properties.  

Unlike black truffles that are both wild and cultivated on truffle farms, the white truffle is found only in the wild by expert truffle hunters along with their trusted and highly trained sniffer dogs. There is a mystery and intrigue to the lifecycle of these species that still stumps modern day science.  Several variable factors such as genome, weather, location, skill, and the moon-cycle make the wild white truffle locations and yields unpredictable.  Since the demand for these delicious tubers are always on the increase, and supply is limited, their value in the market is set incredibly high.   

Over the past decade, top-grade white truffles have fetched anywhere between $8,000 USD - $18,000 USD/kilo.  For many of us in the culinary world, the White Truffle season is the most exciting and undoubtably the most expensive time of the year.  

The season is short-lived, unpredictable, and truly special that any reputable and experienced chef or gastronome will take proper time to select and serve only the finest white top-grade truffles to their guests.  

You too can enjoy selecting the best of the season with proper guidance and tips.  

I have a long lineage of white truffle experts in my family stretching back 6 generations.  In fact, since 1932, my family, beginning with my great grand-father Pietro and his neighbour and good friend Pietro have built up their small and humble truffle market stand in their local village to a world-class truffle hunting, tasting, production and innovation centre next to the heart of the truffle forest.  Thankfully, I love white truffles as they were always in my life.  I have many fond memories as a young girl visiting my grandparents in their medieval hilltop village in the heartland of the truffle forest in Istria, Croatia.  Inevitably and always before taking flight home, I would be the insufferable and innocent looking traveler/mule who had her luggage jammed packed with these delicate tubers wrapped in clothes for their safe journey to Canada. 

Fast forward to present day and for 16 (+) years, I have had the pleasure to provide these particularly precious and expensive tubers to the most discerning, infamous, reputable chefs and foodie clients in both my hometown of Toronto and across Canada.  Before rebranding to Root44, my company was initially named, White Truffles because I had started selling what I knew best and what I had direct access to - the freshest, top-grade and the best wild white truffles in the world.

To save you time, money, and disappointment before you make this expensive purchase, I am happy to share my TOP 3 professional tips for selecting the best fresh White Truffles during the White Truffle Season.  

My TOP 3 Professional TIPS for selecting FRESH WHITE TRUFFLES (aka – tuber magnatum pico)

TIP #1: Buy the VERY BEST within your BUDGET - A little bit of something good is better than a large quantity of something bad or worse - FAKE.

The season is short and white truffles are rare, making your purchase incredibly special.  This tuber grows only in the wild and in only a few European forests.  Secret locations are searched for hours and often days.  Truffles are unearthed by an expert truffle hunter with the help of their trusted and brilliant truffle dogs.  These dogs have years of training to focus and find the scent of the white truffle amongst the thousands of other forests scents and other distractions. Once found, truffles are sorted and sold to wholesalers who ship them across the global, and all within hours of collection.  The mystery, rarity and seasonality of the Fresh White makes them their output unpredictable.  They are treated as commodities – where prices fluctuate based on supply-demand. The price per gram/ounce for a fresh truffle will likely be much more expensive than entire grocery bill.   Although prices are not fixed, a top-grade White Truffle does not change its genetics.  If the price is too good to be true based on the current market prices or historic prices – you can bet, they are not top-grade White Truffles.

Do not be tempted to buy the lowest priced truffles just to have more shavings on your plate.   Instead, buy only authentic and top-grade truffles.  Buy what you can afford and determine your plate size accordingly.  For example, if you buy a small truffle – add fresh shavings to a smaller plate.

TIP #2:  PURCHASE from a Trusted Supplier.  

To avoid a scam, lower quality, or old truffles, it helps to know your supply-chain or even better have a personal Truffle Dealer.  WHAT - Did I say Truffle Dealer?!  How can an occasional, non-industry or even a first-time buyer have the luxury or convenience of a personal Truffle Dealer on their dial?  EASY – the world is one connected accessible link.  Look around or as they say in my industry – SNIFF around and you will find the one place or places that offer the best truffles or even better, the Truffle Suppliers themselves.  I am a Truffle Dealer to hundreds of buyers.  I treat each client the same regardless of their purchase – with courtesy, respect, quality-authentic product and reliable service.  You should always feel comfortable with your purchase. 

The advantage of knowing where to buy and who to buy from removes the worry about whether your investment is sound.  You will always have a DIRECT source to the best and freshest of a truffle shipment in any given season.   

 TIP #3: Do your RESEARCH – It will pay off.

Know the region of origin and season you are working with.  In fact, know the weather.  The white truffle is a high maintenance diva!  Temperature and weather conditions at origin and in your neighborhood can affect the quality of a truffle.  Temperature fluctuations compromise the quality of the truffle.  For example, if was raining for several days prior to shipping truffles, they will contain more water than normal which will affect the longevity of the truffle – they will rot quicker lasting only a few days rather than a good week.  If you are short on time to research weather details, at least know the characteristics of a quality white truffle.   When you are examining a truffle know that a quality white truffle will be firm, dry (never wet or glossy), white/cream with occasional reddish colour markings, can include holes (from the roots), various sizes and should be aromatic with hints of garlic, earth, and wildflower.  Place of origin will always be Europe – Croatia and Italy are amongst the best places for these top-grade whites.  A poor-quality truffle or worse, a fake truffle will have no smell, an artificial or rotting smell (we intrinsically know when something is or smells rotten). It will be soft, spongy, or granular to the touch. The truffle will be uniform in colour –predominately white.  These inferior but similar looking truffles can get mixed into a shipment of top-grade tubers.  Sub-par truffles can be sourced in Europe, but they can also be found in North America to Saudi Africa. 

Bottom-line:  Perform a Multi-Sensory Review - SEE, SMELL, TOUCH.  And for added measure, go with your GUT Instincts based on all this invaluable information I shared. 

White Truffle - Tuber magnatum pico

Origins:  Europe – Croatia, Italy and scant and select forested areas of central and eastern Europe 

Fresh Season:  Late September – Early January

Average Retail Prices:  $10,000 - $18,000 per kilo

My passion is truffles!  Can you tell?  Please enjoy the white truffle season!  It is the most magical  and delicious time of the year.   Stay on top of fresh truffle news with ROOT44.   During the Fresh Truffle Season, please make sure to check in on my weekly reports and fresh truffle availability for Canada-Wide shipments:        www.root44.ca   

Xo Wanda, Founder, Root 44


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