With just a few shavings, truffles can transform any standard dish into a culinary masterpiece. Extravagant ingredients revered by culinary enthusiasts across the globe, truffles are a type of fungus that grows underground around the roots of certain tree species, including oak and hazelnut. Both types of truffles, black and white, are rare and highly sought after, which means they're expensive. You'll typically only see truffle-laden dishes on the menu at fine dining restaurants, not at your cheap local burger joint. You can also buy white truffle oil to try the delicacy in the comfort of your own home.
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Can You Grow White Truffles at Home?
White truffles (Tuber magnatum) are more rare than their black counterparts (Tuber melanosporum) because they can only grow in specific areas under very specific conditions. In the wild, they only grow in a few areas near Italy and the Balkans. You can find a similar species, the Oregon winter white truffle (Tuber oregonense), in regions of southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California. Because they grow underground, they're tough to find and typically require the help of dogs or pigs who are trained to alert their handlers when they smell one.
Since finding them in the wild is so difficult, growing your own white truffles seems like the perfect solution. However, growing them yourself is actually more challenging, even if you're a plant care pro. The soil conditions need to be just right to grow white truffles because of the way they interact with tree roots underground, and scientists are still working to understand their ideal environmental conditions.
Growing Your Own White Truffles Is Feasible in the Future
There is hope for farming and cultivating white truffles. A global first, in 2021, French scientists at the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment announced that they successfully demonstrated the controlled production of Italian white truffles outside of their natural distribution range — specifically, in orchards in France.
Their research confirms that the white truffles survived between three and eight years after planting before they were successfully harvested in both 2019 and 2020. In their paper, the researchers present what they found to be the ideal truffle-growing conditions for white truffles. The researchers show optimism for the feasibility of cultivating white truffles all over the world.
If you're a white truffle fanatic and want to grow your own at home, wait until more information is available. Otherwise, you may spend unnecessary time and energy trying to grow your own white truffles.