When you visit a fine dining restaurant, the first thing you do is go through the menu. There’s a good chance that you will come across a few dishes with the word ‘truffle’ in the title.
Many people may have heard of it, but few people have tasted an actual truffle. This could be due to its cost or the unavailability of the product.
In 2017, a set of white Alba truffles weighing just under two pounds sold for over 75,000 euros, or over $85,000. Truffles were in short supply that year, but even during a more season some can cost $4,000 a pound.
Truffle is a wild product, it is a natural product. It is not something you can cultivate or control. This unpredictability contributes to the extreme prices truffles can fetch. People have tried for generations, to no avail, to farm truffles.
And while recent attempts in the U.S. and Australia to recreate truffle-conducive habitats by planting chestnut, oak, and hazelnut trees have shown modest success, the crop has been insubstantial and rarely are full truffles salvageable.
There are four main varieties of truffles used in cuisine. Though prices vary depending on the strength of the growing season and the rarity of the type, Sparvoli says prices are, on average: $250 per pound for summer black truffles; $350 per pound for Burgundy, which grow from September through February; $800 per pound for winter black, which grow from November through March; and $2,000 to $4,000 for Alba (a town in Italy) or white truffles, which grow from early October through December. They are also hard to find.