Truffles have captivated audiences for thousands of years, and their irresistible aroma draws every new generation towards it. Categorized as subterranean mushrooms, they are found in the living roots of trees, mainly oak, chestnut, beech, and hazel. The discovery of the truffles dates back to ancient Egyptians, who considered the delicacy to be a high-esteem food. With research and hybrid cultivations, the species of truffles has expanded and brought new flavors from oaky and earthy to juicy and sweet. While the prices vary depending on the market, they are a sought-after delicacy not many people have tried in their lifetime.
With a limited day’s shelf life and seasonal availability, truffles are an in-demand product all year long. Everyone wants to get their hands on the delicacy that adds a unique taste to the food, from individual buyers to restaurants. Let’s take a look at the most expensive truffles in the world.
10 Oregon Truffles ($45)
A recent discovery in science, the first cultivation of Oregon truffles occurred in 2013 when Périgord truffles were unearthed. Oregon finds its truffles underneath fast-growing Douglas fir plantations in Willamette Valley. These plantations are abundantly found in Oregon, and it has become a well-earning opportunity for the Truffle Business in the state.
9 Underground Small White Truffles ($140)
A hard-to-find food, truffles are rare and difficult to cultivate, with white truffles being a rarity. Small white truffles cost upwards of $140 for a pound and have a five-day shelf life. As mentioned by CNBC, white truffles are the most valuable as they lack an outer shell which leaves them exposed to the other elements in nature.
8 Summer Black Truffles ($250)
With a season from May to August, summer black truffles are commonly found in restaurants during the months as they are served with cold dishes and used to garnish salads. Called Tuber Aestivum, the summer black truffles are exported into the United States by multiple companies, including Urbani and Done4NY, which provide 100 pounds of truffles per week to New York restaurants.
7 Périgord Black Truffle ($1000)
In 2017, the University of Cambridge and Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd. collaborated with local farmers on the first Mediterranean black truffles in the United Kingdom. According to News Week, it took the team nine years to cultivate the truffles, which are one of the best-flavored truffles species. Périgord Black Truffles are harvested from a Mediterranean oak tree and cost $1000 per pound.
6 Rare Italian White Truffle ($4,500)
Due to the loss of woodland and climate change, the quantity of white truffles has significantly decreased over the years. As the White Italian truffles are only found during the seasonal months, their demand grows for purchase, and the five-day shelf life makes them a sought-after delicacy. These white truffles are hunted using truffle pigs; however, dogs have also become truffle-hunting companions today.
5 Sotheby’s Italian Truffle ($61,250)
Sabatino Truffles found a 4.16-pound white truffle in Umbria, Italy, in 2014, and the delicacy was auctioned off by Sotheby’s within a week. After rejecting millions offered by buyers in China, the company sold it via an auction to raise money for Children’s Glaucoma Foundation and Citymeals-on-Wheels. A food and wine lover from Taiwan bid via phone and won.
4 Russian Billionaire’s Truffle ($95,000)
Vladimir Potanin, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, is also a multi-billionaire with a $24.9 billion net worth. In 2013, he spent $95,000 and bought 4 pounds of white truffle from Nellon Balan, an NYC restauranteur, as stated by Business Insider. Potanin bought white Alba truffles, which are rare and cultivated in the Alba region of Italy. White Albas are only available from late September to early October.
3 Giant Italian White Truffle ($118,000)
At the 21st World White Truffle Auction in Alba, Italy, in 2021, a two-pound Italian white truffle was sold to chef Umberto Bombana from the Hong Kong-based Michelin star restaurant 8½ Otto e Mezzo. The winning bid for the white truffle was $118,000, known for its earthy aroma and taste. White truffles have increased in value over time due to the extreme difficulty of cultivating them.
2 Truffle From Tuscany ($330,000)
In 2007, one of the biggest truffles found in the past half-century, a 3.3-lb truffle, was harvested in Tuscany, Italy, and presented at an auction held in London, Macau, and Florence. The giant fungus was displayed on a silver platter ahead of the auction, and casino mogul Stanley Ho bid for the truffle on his phone through his partner Angela Leong who offered the winning price of $330,000.
1 Stanley’s Ho’s Truffle ($330,000)
Casino mogul Stanley Ho made another expensive purchase in 2010 when he bought a pair of white truffles for $330,000. One of the truffles weighed 900 grams and was discovered in Tuscany. While the 400-gram truffle was found in Molise, as reported by The Guardian. He bid on the delicacy through his business representatives at the Sociedade de Jogos de Macau to buy the most expensive truffle pair in the world.
Truffles have become a unique staple in high-end restaurants that offer expensive dishes solely based on the use of truffles. The market has become competitive as new companies are emerging to collaborate with local truffle hunters to sell these delicacies worldwide. As the truffles become increasingly challenging to find, their prices will likely shoot up.