Why truffles are value-for-money

Truffles are a high premium mushroom variety that often commands prices way beyond their ordinary counterpart. It grows underground devoid of roots and it emits a distinctly appetising and delectable aroma that adds a punch of umami to any dish. Its hefty price, though, often raises not a few eyebrows. Several factors justify the high premium for this sought-after and much-hyped fungus.


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Truffles are pricey simply because of their very limited supply. It normally takes six to seven years to grow and harvest truffles in very short seasons. Finding them is also extremely difficult and requires highly-trained dogs or even pigs to sniff
them as they grow underground. White truffles from Italy are the rarest and most expensive type, with the shortest season lasting only between October and December, but they certainly pack a strong punch than other types. 

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Difficult to grow

Truffles in the wild are hard to find, prompting growth of truffle-dedicated farms to meet demands of the market. Growing truffles require a specific technique of inoculating truffle spores with roots of young oak, pine or hazel trees and cultivating
soil. Results, though, aren’t always successful since determining the maturity of the spores is difficult and requires delicate care when harvesting.

Ideal weather conditions also play a big role in growing truffle. Mediterannean and European regions are well-known producers of high-quality truffle species because their climatic conditions that offer ample rain in summer and humid winters. 

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Short life span

Truffles have very short lifespans, quickly losing their luster the longer they are out of the ground. After they are cut, fresh truffles quickly decay and they often last for less than a week. What needs to be done is to carefully wrap truffles in an
absorbent paper or clean dry towel inside a sealed container before placing them in the chiller to extend their lifespan by a couple of weeks.

France is home to the best summer black truffles and are more affordable compared to rare wild truffles grown during longer seasons from October to April. They can be frozen for up to three months, although the longer they are stored in low
temperatures, the more they get hit by moisture formation and aroma loss. 

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Distinct flavour and smell

There are thousands of species and sub-species of truffles around the world, each with its own pungent but delectable aroma. Some that aren’t even edible. The most expensive species that are known to pack a punch of umami flavours are Kalahari, Périgord black and Italian winter white. 

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It is always difficult and expensive to obtain top-notch quality truffles. This has prompted many establishments to come up with alternatives to market their products with “truffle” and a steep price that disappoint customers.

For instance, when truffle oil was first introduced to the market it gained much hype, but it quickly became one of the least favourite ingredients of high-end chefs since most truffle oils do not actually contain any truffles. They are simply synthesized products made to imitate the characteristics of the rare fungi. 

why truffles are so expenive white truffle season gafencu magazine shavings


The high premium of a truffle varies between origin, species and weight. While a frozen Italian summer black truffle would  cost HK$950 for 500g, the Italian white truffle from Alba would rake up HK$22,500 for the equivalent weight. Truffle dishes at restaurants are even more astounding as dishes are often  garnished with only a pinch to a few shavings, but it will set you back between HK$500 to over $1000 per dish. To guarantee the most value-for-money truffle meal, enquire on the origin and species of the truffle, the extra charge on a high-quality truffle will be more satisfying than paying for a more affordable option.

Black Truffle Treats: Why it’s good for you and where to try it

Black truffle shavings

Italian white truffle season is well and truly over. Fans of the pungent fungi will have to bide their time until the next crops ripen in the summer. But it’s not all bad news, because winter heralds the arrival of its sister plant: the black truffle.

In stark contrast to the intense flavours of its white variety, the black truffle presents a much subtler, fruitier taste profile. They’re even cooked differently. The former is usually served raw, while the latter only reveals its true character when exposed to heat.

From the outside, black truffles don't look like much

Although everyone knows black truffles fetch a premium price, few are cognisant of its health benefits. As a member of the vegetable family, it’s low in fat and carbohydrates but high in protein. Best of all, it’s cholesterol free.

If all this truffle talk has given you the munchies, you’re in luck. The DiVino Group is currently offering epicurious diners a perfect chance to experiment with this precious culinary ingredient. From now until 31 March, each of their four restaurants – DiVino, DiVino Patio, Carpaccio and Spasso – have a ‘No Menu, No Limitations, No Rules’ special. Guests are invited to choose how much and in which way they’d like their black truffles done, with no limitations.

DiVino Carpaccio serves black truffle on its risotto

If you’d rather leave the menu creation up to the professionals, that’s fine too. Each restaurant is showcasing three unique dishes to satisfy both uninitiated and experienced truffle aficionados. Keep an eye out for Carpaccio’s Carnaroli Risotto with beetroot and Parmesan fondue. Another standout is the slightly sweet Seared Ahi Tuna with carrot cream and roasted baby carrots. All dishes are topped off with generous shavings of black truffle.

No matter which way you take your truffles, you can dine guilt-free, safe in the knowledge that these so-called guilty pleasures are actually healthy treats. Buon appetito!

Text: Tenzing Thondup