The most expensive truffle in the world: the white Alba truffle of the Piedmont, in Italy. Photo by Stefania Spadoni | Archivio Ente Turismo Alba Bra Langhe Roero.




Category Main Page
Articles & Reviews



Main Nibbles

Main Page
Articles & Reviews Of Foods From A To Z



Product Reviews

Main Page
Food, Beverages, Books,
News & More







KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.



December 2006

Last Updated November 2013

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Vegetables

White Truffles

Page 8: The Different Types Of White Truffles


This is Page 8 of a 12-page article. Click on the black links below to visit other pages. See all of our delicious food glossaries.


Truffle Glossary: White Truffles


The two finest white truffle varieties are from Italy: the great Tuber magnatum pico—the Alba truffle—and Tuber albidum pico, or Bianchetto. It can be confusing, because the Alba truffle is not Tuber albidum pico, but Tuber magnatum pico. The easiest way to remember this is with this phrase: The Alba truffle is magnatum, not albidum Say it a few times, and it will stick!

White truffles are softer and more perishable than black truffles, and are almost always served raw (they cannot tolerate the heat of cooking). Generally, they are gently warmed for a few minutes to help enhance their bouquet.

There are many types of white truffles. As with black truffles, all are inferior to the main event, the Magnatum or Alba truffle. Some connoisseurs will only eat the Magnatum. So, when you are offered white truffles, you need to know, as with black, what you are buying. Lesser truffles may cost significantly less, but they are still very expensive. You may wish to save up and experience the real thing.


Tuber magnatum pico is also known as the white truffle, the Alba white truffle, in Italian, bianco pregiato (pregiato means precious or rare), in French truffe blanche du Piemont (photo at top of page). It is found from October 1 through December 31, chiefly in the Piemonte (Piedmont) and Emilia Romagna regions of northern Italy (it can be found, though in much smaller amounts, in some areas of central Italy and in southern France). It is found in the vicinity of oaks, lime trees and poplars. are not white. It is known for its luscious, heady aroma. The surface is smooth, but it is not white—it has a creamy, cafe au lait color that can have yellow and grey highlights. The veined flesh (gleba or glebe) varies from blond to chestnut depending on the type of tree that hosts the truffle.
  Precious nuggets of white truffle. Photo courtesy International Alba Truffle Fair.

The skin is smooth and shows yellow-grey coloration; the flesh has a light whitish-reddish-brownish cast with white veins. Its aroma is reminiscent of garlic, shallot and cheese. It is only consumed raw, usually shaved over pasta or rice. It loses all flavor when cooked. The name “magnatum” refers to the rarity and costliness: only magnates could afford them. The name Alba comes from the Italian town in the Piedmont region in the northwest corner of Italy that is the center of the white truffle trade. The second most famous white truffle town is Asti, a city (and province) in Piedmont. Pico, part of its botanical species name, honors the Italian botanist who first identified Tuber Magnatum.


Tuber albidum pico or Tuber borchii vitt., is also also known as the bianchetto (meaning whitish, pronounced bee-on-KEHT-toe) and the marzuolo (March) truffle for the peak month of harvest, the Spring truffle, the Tuscan truffle, the blanquette or bianchetti truffle. It has a sharp taste when raw. But when added to oil or butter, its flavor becomes similar to the prized Tuber Magnatum Pico. The season is from January 10 through April 30th. The name honors both the town of Alba and the botanist Pico. The majority of white truffle products (truffle paste, truffle oil, e.g.) are made with the Albidum truffle.

Bianchetto truffles. Photo courtesy


Oregon white truffles (Tuber oregonense and Tuber gibbosum, formerly known as Tuber gigantum) are found in the Pacific Northwest, from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, to northern California and east to Iowa. Oregon has a large concentration of them, often found in the Douglas Fir forests of the Willamette Valley. The season is November through March. The truffle has a tan exterior and a white glebe that matures to a taupe color with white veining. Oregon truffles have a pungent scent of garlic that pairs well with Italian dishes and cream-based sauces. As with most truffles, the aroma dissipates with heat, so they must be treated with the same care as Italian white truffles—shaved raw over food, never cooked. See also Oregon black truffles.  

Oregon white truffles with chilean sea bass, grilled nectarines and toasted walnuts. Photo courtesy Oregon Truffle festival.



Continue To Page 9: Truffle Glossary ~ Other Truffle Terms

Go To The Article Index Above


Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.  Images are the copyright of their respective owners.