Italian white truffles are easily the most expensive fungi you can have shaved over your lightly buttered pasta. The cost fluctuates depending on the harvest of a truffle’s particular season, but the Italian white truffle (Tuber magnatum) consistently eclipses the prices of its brethren — in 2014, a 4.16-pound white truffle sold for more than $60,000. If you’re looking for a less pricey fix, the summer truffle (Tuber aestivum) is more on the affordable side at roughly $300 per pound.
The scarcity of truffles tends to lead to a lot of counterfeit. It's not uncommon for some restaurants to give the appearance of serving a white truffle by using the inferior "whitish truffle" (Tuber borchii) drizzled with truffle oil to create the Italian white’s pungent aroma. And often truffle oil isn’t made from actual truffles but from the synthetic compound 2,4-dithiapentane that mimics the Italian white’s scent.
But what makes truffles so desirable? Check out the video above to learn how truffles have rooted themselves as the fanciest tuber in the fungi kingdom.