If I had to guess, I’d say that more people have heard of truffles than have tasted a truffle. Truffles are expensive, usually used in a fine dining setting, and can be pretty hard to find. But if you’re thinking about finding truffles and cooking them up, you’re probably wondering, ‘what do truffles taste like?’ So let’s talk truffles: what are truffles, what do truffles taste like, where can you find truffles, and how do you cook truffles.
What are truffles?
The term ‘truffle’ is the name given to the fruiting body of a subterranean, meaning they grow underground, ascomycete fungus. The fungi is an ectomycorrhizal fungus that typically grow in close association with tree roots. There are different varieties of truffle that have different appearances. Black truffles, for example, have a very dark, almost black appearance, while white truffles can range from white to light yellow.
The consumption of truffles dates back far into our history. The first known mention of Truffles comes from the Third Dynasty of Ur all the way back in 20th century BC Sumer. Consumption of truffles waned during the middle ages but regained popularity starting during the Renaissance.
What do truffles taste like?
To the topic of the article: if you’re thinking about cooking a special dish that includes truffles, you might be wondering: what do truffles taste like? It’s a fair question. Not many people seek out truffles, so their taste is a bit of a mystery to most.
Truffles tend to have a fairly rich, strong flavor. Most would say that black truffles have a nutty, kind of chocolaty, earthy sort of flavor to them. Some say they taste woody with a hint of general mushroom flavor.
White truffles have a pretty radically different flavor. Some would describe them as tasting a bit like garlic or shallots with a strong, musky aroma. The richness of the flavor of these two truffles is second to none.
How to find truffles
If you want to cook with truffles, the price tag on them can really dissuade you. You might think that foraging your own truffles is the way to go, and you might be correct about that. But there are some things you should know about foraging for truffles before you head out into the woods.
First, there are potentially hundreds or thousands of different types of truffles and you really don’t want to eat most of them. It’s important that you know exactly what you’re looking for. Taking a class on mushroom foraging is highly recommended before you head out into the woods.
Knowing where to look is important too. Truffles are usually found growing near the root system of trees. Some truffles like specific trees, like firs, pines, and hemlock. Truffles almost never grow under maple or cedar trees.
If you think you’ve found a truffle, smell it. It should have an earthy, slightly garlicky odor. If so, you’ve potentially found a ripe truffle. If it doesn’t smell like anything, it might not be ripe yet. You can take it home and set it in your fridge for a week to further ripen.
How to cook truffles
Cooking truffles is very easy, but it can also be easy to mess up. There are some general guidelines for cooking truffles that you should follow.
- Use your truffles quickly as their flavor can degrade fast
- Truffles are best used in simple dishes
- Don’t cook them on too high of heat or you’ll lose the flavor
- Truffles taste good when added to eggs, cheese, pasta, risotto, chicken, potatoes, and butter.
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