What Do Truffles Taste Like?
If you have been lucky enough to dine in any reputed restaurant, you must have seen truffles on the menu. Chefs love truffles and they tend to highlight dishes that contain truffles. So, you might be wondering what do truffles taste like? Let’s get to it.
Truffles are often mistaken as mushrooms. But they are nothing like mushrooms. Truffles are really expensive and are best served with Mediterranean or Italian dishes. Truffles work great as the base of a pizza. They are often called the diamonds of the kitchen.
Truffles are so famous because of their unique flavor. It’s hard to explain. Not every variety of truffle is crazy-expensive. Some of them are more affordable than others. But truffles do hold high value in them and they are vastly different than your grocery store mushrooms.
What Are Truffles
To understand why truffles cost so much, you have to understand what they are. Truffles are basically some type of fragrant fungus. The genus is called Tuber. But only a handful species from the Tuber genus is consumed by us.
Truffles grow below the ground. Soils in Europe and Asia are very suitable for truffles growth. Once discovered, an unearthly aroma hits the air and they look like rough-skinned spongy creatures.
The difference between wild mushrooms and truffles is in the flavor. As truffles grow underground, they have a very unique flavor that no mushroom can match. The great thing about truffles is, every species is edible. It helps people like us who want to enjoy the flavor without going bankrupt.
The sad part is, we can’t cultivate truffles. They grow underground when they wish to. And commercially produced truffles often lack the characteristics that make truffles great in the first place.
Discovering truffles require highly trained dogs. Pigs were used once but they ate the truffles themselves. So, people started to use dogs that are perfectly happy with treats after finding truffles. The dogs are trained using truffle oils smeared over things and hidden in the garden.
There are two most common variants of truffles. What do truffles taste like? The answer somewhat depends on which variant we are talking about. The two variants are:
- White truffles
- Black truffles
When you go to a fancy restaurant and see a $300 truffles dish on the menu, its white truffles. They are the most expensive of the bunch and they are found exclusively in northern Italy. They even host a truffles festival where the locals come to sell truffles and other relevant products. The aroma of white truffles is mesmerizing.
Black truffles are widely found in France. Specifically, Périgord. The taste of black truffles is similar to white truffles, but they lack in the fragrance. The bright side is, you can use it in more dishes as they don’t cost so much as white truffles. Black truffles are great for people like us with a budget.
What Do Truffles Smell Like
It’s really relative. Each person will describe the smell of truffles differently. People who are fortunate enough to afford the finest of truffles say they have an out of the world smell. The aroma is hypnotizing and is capable of taking your mind to a mythical world.
Other than humans, truffles attract all kinds of animals like squirrels, dogs, pigs, flies, etc. A study by German researchers indicates that truffles contain androstenol in such an amount that female pigs are highly attracted. Androstenol is a male pig hormone that attracts the female. The smell is so exotic that you can’t miss it. Some call it earthy. Some call it garlicky.
What Do Truffles Taste Like
There is a popular misconception that truffles taste like mushrooms. But a comparison with mushrooms is such an injustice to the delicacy of truffles. Answering the age-old question is no easy task for us as well.
The reason why people believe truffles taste like mushrooms is that they share some characteristics. The musky texture and the earthiness of mushrooms are present in truffles. Another common answer is that truffles taste as they smell.
Imagine savory notes found in black olives. Combine it with an earthy and nutty taste. The smell is the main ingredient of truffles. The smell is stronger than the flavor itself most of the time. The origin of the truffles also influences the taste to a large extent.
The major originating places are already covered previously. They are the finest and the most expensive variants of truffles. But truffles do come from other countries as well. The USA, Mexico, China, Poland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, and Spain provides the rest of the truffles around the world.
All of these variants come with different flavors. There are a number of different factors that also influence the final flavor of the particular truffle variant.
- The root of the tree that the truffles are attached to
- The soil truffles grow in
- The season they are harvested
There is no definitive way to give you the idea about what do truffles taste like. You have to taste them yourself to draw the line. You can find different opinions from different people who are highly respected for their superior taste buds. But the ultimate verdict is in your hands.
How to Eat Truffles
Eating truffles require a very delicate process. The improper approach might ruin the taste and the smell at the same time. Let’s look at some tricks on how to enjoy the most of truffles.
- Never cook white truffles. They possess a combined smell of garlic, honey, and hay. Eat freshly shaved white truffles with pasta, scrambled eggs or risottos.
- Black truffles have the amazing ability to aromatize the dishes they are cooked with. Juicy roasts or cheese fondue are prime examples. Grate fresh black truffles over eggs, sautéed mushrooms, pasta or toasted croutons.
- Mixing finely grated truffles with unsalted butter make an amazing garnish. Use it on baked potatoes or your favorite steak.
- Truffle dishes go hand to hand with red wine. So, make sure you have a bottle of full-bodied red wine in hand before ordering truffles.
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If you are new to truffles and have never tried them before, your best bet is to eat them as fresh as possible. There are some specialized truffle cutters. But if you can’t get your hands on one, cut them with a knife as finely as possible. You can also use a grater.
Season the sliced truffles with black pepper and salt. Now, you can either eat them as is or combine with other dishes. Truffles work particularly good with steak. You can mix the grated truffles in mayonnaise to use as toppings for your pizza or burger.
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What Does Truffle Oil Taste Like
Truffle oil is a great and affordable alternative to conventional truffles. Truffle oils are infused from actual truffles and oil. The type of oil used determines the flavor and sometimes the final price.
Authentic truffle oils are infused from extra virgin olive oil. Other high-quality oils work just fine. Then a variant of black or white truffles is mixed with the oil after its finely grated. It gives the oil the flavor we all are so fond of.
It’s important for you to know that there are synthetic truffle oils available on the market. They are an infusion of oil and chemicals that imitate the smell and flavor of truffles. They don’t actually contain any truffle extracts.
The taste of truffle oil varies depending on whether its black truffle oil or white truffle oil. Black truffle oil is not so popular as white truffle oil. They often cost less than their counterpart. The black truffle oil has a very strong aroma. A very earthy and rich taste indicates that it’s made from black truffles.
If you want the actual feel of truffles through truffle oil, there is no alternative to white truffle oil. The flavor is very light compared with the black truffle oil. It has an acidic taste and earthiness is missing. It tastes more like garlic or shallot.
Both variants of the truffle oils are amazing for cooking. Using just a bit goes a long way. Make sure not to overuse them because it will ruin the entire dish.
Truffles are as gourmet as food items get. They are not called the diamonds of the kitchen for no reason. If you were unaware of the characteristics of truffles and what do they taste like, we hope now you know all there is to know about truffles. The next time you visit a fancy restaurant that offers truffles, remember this article.