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Curious about what truffles taste like? We are going to share what they taste like, the different varieties of truffles, and how to use them in a recipe.
Not your ordinary mushroom, truffles are considered to be a delicacy in the culinary world. They have even been referred to as the "Diamonds of the kitchen".
Truffles can be hard to find and have a rich, unique flavor and smell. These delicious fungi are used in many dishes around the world especially in French, Greek, Italian, and Spanish cuisine.
What do truffles taste like?
How do you describe what truffles taste like? This is not an easy question because they all vary slightly in taste. Black truffles have been described has having a deep musky smell with a nutty, sweet, earthy taste. White truffles have a different taste and smell. They have more of an onion, garlic flavor with a strong musk smell.
Similar to wines, the flavor of truffles can differ depending on what region the truffle was found and the time it was harvested.
Another thing to consider is that often the smell of a truffle is very strong and pungent but the actual taste is more mild.
What are truffles?
They are a fungus that belong to the Tuber genus and can be found underground. These fungi can typically be found close to the tree roots of oak, chestnut, hazelnut, and other trees. Animals that eat fungi, or fungivores, help to spread the truffle spores.
The shape is similar to a small lumpy potato. The texture is spongy but firm.
How are they found?
Truffle hunters originally used female pigs to sniff out the fungi. Unfortunately, the pigs would tend to eat the expensive delicacy once they found them so the hunters decided to use specially trained truffle dogs.
Why are truffles so expensive?
There are many reasons truffles are such an expensive food. Fresh truffles are grown in the wild and can be very hard to find. Attempts have been made to farm truffles but they require very specific conditions to grow. They need a very specific soil and moisture to thrive. It also takes many years for them to grow and mature, about 10 years to be precise.
Truffles have been known to be sold from $500 - $5000 per pound. This article includes 5 of the most expensive truffles that have sold including one for $330,000.
There are over 200 species of truffles however only a few are used for culinary dishes. Two common varieties are black and white truffles.
Black truffles, tuber melanosporum, are typically found growing in France. Harvest season is from November - March but peak around the holidays. Black summer truffles can sometimes be found in the grocery store but might be easier to find them in jars packed with oil. They are versatile when it comes to cooking
White truffles, tuber borchii, that are grown in Northern Italy tend to be the most expensive variety. They can be found January - April.
How are truffles used in cooking?
One of the easiest ways to find truffles for cooking is truffles packed in oil. The one to look for is white truffle that has not been mixed with anything artificial.
Truffle salt is another great way to incorporate the rich, musky flavor to food. Again, just make sure you look for products made with real truffles, not synthetic flavoring.
If you are lucky enough to find fresh truffles, a great way to try them is to shave them over some risotto, pasta, or even a slice of pizza.
Want to taste for yourself? Truffles can sometimes be found at gourmet specialty stores, European grocery store or even online.
Some truffle recipes to try: