Truffles are famous in Italy. They also gained popularity all over the world, thanks to their inviting and rich taste.
You can enrich the flavor of many types of dishes by adding truffles. However, what are truffles and how do they taste?
Truffles have a flavor that is similar to garlic and shallots, but they also have a musky tint in their taste. But depending on the type of truffles you use and the way you add them to your dish, this flavor might vary.
Keep reading to learn more about truffles!
What Are Truffles?
Truffles are a type of fungus that belongs to the gender Tuber. They are the fruits of some underground fungi and they can be located around the roots of some trees.
Animals like and eat truffles too. And that helps spread the spores. They are rare and considered a delicacy when they are added to different dishes.
Chef Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin even referred to truffles as the “diamonds of the kitchen” as their flavor can really upgrade the taste of the food.
These fungi are common in France, Italy, Georgia, Croatia, Spain, Greece, and the Middle East. However, they gained popularity in other parts of the world as well.
What Tastes Similar to Truffles?
Before you consider replacing truffles in a recipe, make sure you understand what taste these delicious mushrooms have, so you will know what to look for in a substitute.
You can combine olive oil with a pinch of truffle salt and obtain a mix that will give your food the truffle flavor. However, this will not provide the texture that truffles have.
You can’t put together the flavor of truffles exactly how it is unless you use an ingredient that is truffle-related. Truffle salt or oil is the most convenient ingredient to use and they are also easier to find in stores compared to raw truffles.
If you are searching for a different type of mushroom that resembles truffles, your best choice is black trumpet mushrooms. These mushrooms are also known as the “poor man’s truffles”. And they can substitute for black truffles in any type of dish.
They taste similar but not the same as truffles. Therefore, be aware that the final flavor of your dish might differ. Black trumpet mushrooms have a more earthly flavor compared to truffles and some even describe them as being mildly sweet and nutty.
Do Truffles Taste Like Meat?
Many people think that truffles taste like meat but that is not the case. Several mushrooms are used as a substitute for meat in different vegetarian dishes.
However, that is mostly due to their texture rather than taste. So, you can still use truffles in your dish in small quantities as they have a strong taste. And don’t expect them to give you a potent meat flavor because you will be disappointed.
Black truffles could have a meaty flavor when used with vegetables, but it will be mild and not definitive for their overall taste.
Why Do Truffles Taste So Good?
Truffles are mostly appreciated for their intense flavor that is unique to them.
Their garlicy taste is what makes them special along with the nutty flavor and mild earthly aroma. Other types of truffles taste like shallots which gives them an even stronger flavor.
There are even chefs who claim that truffles can taste similar to chocolate.
As you start to assimilate their flavor, you will also discover a slightly musky taste that will make your dish seem that much more interesting. Adding truffles to your food is like adding a mix of different ingredients that give you an intense culinary experience.
So, combining all these characteristics, it is easy to imagine that the taste of truffles is interesting and unique. It is also a flavor that you will find hard to replicate.
Even when you try to find truffle substitutes, it is suggested to select one that is a truffle-derived product such as oil or salt so you can still get the unique flavor of these rare mushrooms.
Why Are Truffles So Expensive?
If you were tempted to try out these delicious mushrooms, you most likely noticed that they are not among the cheapest options.
The main reason truffles are so pricey is that they are difficult to find.
These mushrooms are seasonal, which means you can’t find them all year round. They also need a particular climate to grow so they are not spread all over the world.
To explain the high price further, truffles also have a short shelf life.
The growth of truffles takes several years. They need oak trees as they are often grown together. When harvested, each truffle needs to be dug out of the ground by hand, which slows down the entire process and increases the labor costs for the production of these mushrooms.
Once you establish your truffle orchard, you can expect to have some truffles to harvest in about 6 years.
What Does Truffle Oil Taste Like?
The taste of truffle oil is very similar to truffles.
This is also why truffle oil is often used as a substitute for truffles too. If you add this oil to your food, first of all, it is important to note that you have to add a small quantity.
The taste of the oil is very potent and will take over the other flavors in your dish fairly fast. So, add only a teaspoon of it and taste your food to decide if you need to add more.
The flavor of truffle oil is earthly, nutty, somewhat garlicy, and even sweet.
If these seem like a lot of aromas in one product, you are not wrong. However, all these aromas combine amazingly well, offering you an exquisite culinary experience that you will want to have again and again.
Is Truffle a Mushroom?
Truffles are a type of fungi, just like other mushrooms. Therefore, they are often referred to as mushrooms as well.
However, unlike other types of mushrooms though, truffles grow underground. They are a lot rarer. There are two types of truffles you can find: white truffles and black truffles.
White truffles come in a whitish shade and have a softer texture, while black truffles have a peel that resembles tree bark and a harder texture. In terms of smell and taste, the white truffles are a lot stronger than the black ones.
Their flavor is fairly similar but it comes at a different intensity which can make all the difference in a dish. Moreover, black truffles might have a milder flavor compared to white truffles but they bring an earthly aroma to your dish that you will absolutely love.
What Does Truffle Smell Like?
Not only the taste of truffles is interesting and attractive but also their smell. As a matter of fact, the smell is what you will notice first in these fungi.
Truffles have a smell of roasted walnuts. White truffles in particular have a scent of cheese with garlic and shallots.
However, you will find that even those who enjoy truffles often find it hard to define their smell. They will adapt great to the rest of the ingredients and create a different smell in each dish you add them to.
The best way to enjoy both the taste and the smell of truffles is to cook them slightly. By exposing them to high heat you will only reduce their flavor and scent.
It generally takes only a few minutes to get your truffles ready if you want them cooked but you can also enjoy them raw. So, make sure you give them a taste while they are still raw to see how you like them before you start cooking them under heat.
What Do Black Truffles Taste Like?
The black truffles are even rarer than white ones. The taste is essentially very similar, but less intense.
The only accent that black truffles bring compared to white ones is an earthly flavor that makes them unique and blends well with almost any type of dish.
If you don’t have truffles often, it will be difficult to tell the difference between black and white truffles in terms of taste. And if you don’t like a strong aroma, you will most likely prefer the black over white truffles.
Truffles are a delicacy you have to try when you get the occasion as they don’t compare with any other flavor.
You will either love or hate them since many chefs say there is no in between with these unique types of fungus. However, we are sure that you will appreciate their uniqueness either way.
Lastly, be aware of the fact that truffles are hard to find and cost a lot so you might want to look for them at bigger stores where they have an aisle of international food.