What Do Truffles Taste Like?
The answer to what truffles tastes like will always be different from each person you ask seeing as each person has a different encounter with truffles.
Why? you may ask, that is because when it comes to truffles their flavor generally does not come from the way the truffle tastes but rather from the way the truffle smells.
Truffles have an earthy taste to them, kind of like mushrooms. This can be coupled with a nutty or woody taste for some people.
What are truffles?
I hear the word truffles and I immediately think of exquisiteness. They are just one of those things that scream fine dining to me. They are just fancy, to say the least. And no, we are not talking about the chocolate truffles that you love to get as dessert, we are speaking about the other fungi that grow under trees.
Technically speaking, truffles are a highly sought, edible subterranean fungus (kind of like mushroom) that grow under some trees such as the mighty oak trees and hazelnut trees (yep, they grow underground entirely). So unique, sweet, savory, and special are truffles that they have even been dubbed as the “diamond of the kitchen”.
Because truffles tend to grow on the roots of trees, the trees need to have a large network of roots, it should grow in relatively low altitude and be covered in fertile soil. The fact that they are attached to the roots of trees means that they cannot be seen when harvesting but rather smelt (that is why traditionally, female pigs used to be used to sniff them out).
Female pigs were used because it is believed that the scent given off by truffles is almost similar to that of the testosterone given out by male pigs. The only and major problem that was encountered with the use of female pigs is that the pigs also loved the truffles and would thus eat them whenever they found them.
These days, dogs can be trained to sniff out truffles from the ground when harvesting the truffles (yes, this thing is highly sought after that people train dogs to sniff them out). Unlike the female pigs, dogs are more welcome to exchanging the truffles for a treat such as a sausage.
The fruit and body of the truffle are what is commonly referred to as the ascoma of truffles and this is the highest-priced part of a truffle. While some people describe truffles as having a rather strong foul, pungent or disgusting smell, others describe them to have a sort of fried walnut or sunflower smell (an acquired taste really).
How Truffles they taste like?
Just go round and ask people to describe the taste of truffles to you and I promise you will end up with a million adjectives ranging from tasting like garlic, mushroom-like, earthy, musky, nutty, woody to extremes of gamey.
How and where do Truffles grow?
Though there exist multiple species of truffles that are found all over the world, the very best and most sought-after truffles come from specific areas, yes, the same way we know that the best champagne is from the Champagne area of France.
The process of growing and cultivating truffles is not an easy one and has even been described as frustrating by many truffle farmers. This is due to the fact that the process of growing and cultivating truffles can take anywhere from as little as three years or even four years (and that is only an average). Being such a tricky process, the fruit at the end of the harvest can be very disappointing if the truffles just do not germinate.
Farmers these days usually inoculate the fungi spores of the truffles they want to cultivate into the trees that they have, be they oak or hazelnut trees. This usually happens when these trees are still but mere seedlings and each tree is usually a good distance from the next one to allow for a wider network of roots and avoid intertwining.
As these trees then grow, the truffles should ideally also grow an attach themselves to the roots of the trees. The beauty of this process is that the truffles and the trees have this symbiotic relationship going on.
The truffles do their part in helping the tree to get nourishment and key minerals that it needs from the soil while the trees in turn give the truffles the sugar that they need in the form of glucose.
At harvest time or as it is best-known hunting time, the truffle farmers enlist the help of specially trained dogs and sometimes female pigs to help with the process. The reason for this is that the dogs and female pigs are able to pick up on the aroma much easily as compared to a human being. Keep in mind that this hunting of truffles can be a very frustrating process yielding little to no fruit because of factors like the climate of the place, the soil, and even just sheer luck of the truffle farmer.
It’s also worth mentioning that at times, truffles can end up growing naturally in the wild. This is caused when an animal such as a pig digs up and eats a truffle then proceeds to pop out the spores of the truffle and thus spreading them to the new are where the animal is.
Different types of truffles
There exist so many species of truffles. But, to make it easier, they are often categorized into;
- What color the truffles are: there are two main great families of truffles. That is the white truffles and the black truffles.
- What season the truffles are grown in: truffles are essentially only grown in one of two seasons. They are either grown and cultivated over the winter or during the summer.
- Where the truffles are grown: Black truffles are somewhat easier to come around but are, however, still very expensive. Both white and black types of truffles are native to Europe. White truffles, commonly known as tuber magnatum are usually the more rare and expensive type of truffles sought.
These types of truffles primarily come from the Piedmont and Tuscany regions of Italy. On the other hand, black truffles which can be referred to as tuber melanosporum are originally grown and cultivated in France, especially in the southcentral region of Perigord.
How to eat Truffles
Generally speaking, truffles have the best flavor while they are at room temperature. When using white truffles, do not cook or apply any heat to them because they happen to be very delicate in nature.
They are best served shaved on top of a dish. Black truffles on the other hand are okay if cooked just slightly. They fair extremely well when they are folded into warm dishes.
Is a Truffle a mushroom.
Well, truffles and mushrooms are both fungi. in fact, some people call them the luxury cousins of the mushroom so it can be easy to confuse them for each other as they have some similarities say in flavor and appearance.
However, the difference usually comes in the way that they grow. While it is now common knowledge that truffles grow underground, mushrooms typically tend to grow above the ground.
Why real Truffles are so expensive
There are a lot of things that happen and activities that take place that directly influence the price of truffles.
Let us start from the fact that truffles do not necessarily grow all year round, they are very rare and Truffles are stubborn and only grow in some very specific conditions, for instance, they require a very specific altitude and even specific alkalinity to be contained in the soil (which is not easy to attain) for them to grow. The growing process can even be considered frustrating at times.
Another fact that can make truffles rather expensive is the relatively short shelf life that truffles have. This means that the truffles will have to make their way to you in record time in order for you to really and truly enjoy their flavor and quality. Once they are dug up, truffles immediately begin losing water in the form of evaporation. This translates to sparing no expense in ensuring that the truffles get to you in absolutely good quality.
We should also take into account the fact that you have to also specially train dogs that will help in the process of hunting for truffles as they are not recognizable to the human nose.
Are truffles healthy?
Not to be confused with the confectionary truffles that are chocolate, real truffles have a bunch of health benefits and nutritional value to the human body. These include:
- Truffles are rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that the human body uses up for specific purposes and functions within it.
- Truffles come high in proteins, fiber, and vitamins such as vitamin C. We should note that according to certain studies, white truffles are actually higher in protein, fat, and fiber than other types.
- Truffles are also a great source of antioxidants. These antioxidants are important to many aspects of a person’s health and are even linked promoting a lower risk of chronic conditions for individuals who regularly partake in truffles.
Truffles are also quite easy to add to your diet, well, provided you can get your hands on them.
Do truffles make you high?
Black truffles make the dogs and pigs that go hunting for them get lost in a frantic and dazed episode. Black truffles contain a “bliss” molecule. This molecule in science is named anandamide.
It has been discovered that this bliss molecule behaves like the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana.
This simply means that it can cause the release of a mood-enhancing chemical in your brain. So, in short, lack of truffles can make you high, but only if consumed in large quantities.
Do Truffles go bad?
As with all other vegetables and fruits or farm produce, they begin to wilt and go bad after they have been harvested. The only difference is that some vegetables and fruits tend to go bad faster than others.
The short answer to this question is that yes, truffles do go bad and they go bad fast. Truffles have an insanely short shelf life.
They can last for between five and six days once you get them depending on whether they are fresh.
How to store Truffles
These fresh truffles are best kept refrigerated in a closed container and wrapped in a paper towel. Refrigerating the truffles helps to keep them fresher for longer.
The closed container helps in that it prevents the truffles from oxidizing and thus getting spoilt while also containing the aroma of the truffles which is a rather strong one that can diffuse into other food items kept with or around the truffles.
Keeping the truffles wrapped in paper or kitchen towel helps them to stay dry. This is good because wet truffles tend to deteriorate very fast.
It is important to understand that one ought not to clean their truffles until they are ready to actually use them. The way to clean truffles is neither to run them under running water nor to submerge them in a basin or container of water (this will only cause the truffles to absorb more water which is not a good thing that you want to happen).
The best way to wash truffles is to use a clean toothbrush or potato brush that has soft bristles. Deep the brush in warm water and gently clean the crevices of the truffles and remember to thoroughly dry them with paper towels.
Because truffles lose their aroma very fast, it would be wise to not cut into them also until you are ready to use or consume them.
If you bought truffles and have no intention of using them immediately, you can choose to freeze them. This will allow the truffles to last for a longer period of time of up to six months. The best way to go about freezing your truffles is to ensure that as stated above, you do not clean or cut them and that you store them in a resealable airtight plastic container or a freezer-safe Ziploc bag.
Wrap the truffles in kitchen or paper towels before placing them in the container and then into the freezer. Also, remember to change out the wrapping kitchen or paper towels ever so often to avoid them becoming wet translating into wet truffles which are no good.
Where to buy Truffles
When it comes to purchasing truffles, one ought to be careful and very keen. Foremost, you should only go buy truffles from a trusted source. This will save you money and heartache from not getting genuine truffles.
The freshness of truffles is judged not only from their strong aroma but from examining their firmness and even color of the flesh. When buying truffles, do not go for the ones that look like they just won a best-dressed title at a pageant.
Fresh truffles need to be bumpy to the touch and ugly to look at. A distortion in shape does not translate to poor or low quality in taste. Because truffles begin to lose taste immediately, they are dug up, it would be best to ask the store owner when the truffles arrived at the store or grocery and when they were harvested so that you can make out just how long they have been uprooted for.
If you receive this information but are still not sure then the next step is to carry out the sniff test. Simply put, if you take a nice long whiff from the truffles and you are not hit by that strong aroma, or if it just so happens to be faint or generally “off”, just leave the truffles.
What is truffle oil?
Truffle oil can be said to be a less authentic, less expensive alternative to actual truffles. It is simply cooking oil such as olive oil or even sunflower oil that has been infused with the aroma of white or black truffles at times.
But, most times, the cooking oil has just been infused with a form of synthetic flavoring or with the aroma of white or black truffles that are of lesser quality.
Just like with actual real truffles, it is not advisable for a person to actually do cooking with the truffle oil. This is because once exposed to heat, the truffle oil becomes altered. It is better to use your truffle oil as sort of a finishing up oil. Finish preparing your meal, be it eggs, vegetables, or even fries, then just sprinkle a drizzle of your truffle oil over the meal and enjoy.
The health benefits that accrue to you greatly depend on the type of truffle oil that you get and end up using, that is, whether it is synthetic or pure. Essentially, truffle oil has the following health benefits and advantages;
- It helps in improving one’s heart health because it is low in cholesterol.
- It reduces inflammation.
- It helps in increasing blood circulation.
- It helps in the management of diseases such as diabetes.
- It aids in boosting the immune system.
Again, depending on the quality of truffle oil that you use in your meals, you may experience some side effects which vary from individual to individual. These include;
- Since truffle oil possesses the same blood pressure-lowering properties of olive oil, for a person who is already on blood pressure medication to help lower their blood pressure, truffle oil can lead to a significant drop and end up causing hypotension, a very dangerous ailment if not properly handled.
- On that same limb, truffle oil has the ability to regulate insulin and glucose levels in the body and decrease blood sugar. It goes without saying that this is no good for individuals that are diabetic and already on blood sugar-lowering medication.
- Skin irritation can occur when using this oil for topical use. If you have sensitive skin, it would be wise to just stay away from using truffle oil.
- As with almost everything else in the kitchen, too much of truffle oil is not good. When truffle oil is consumed in large amounts, truffle oil can cause stomach-aches, diarrhea, nausea, and even vomiting. Ensure to use it in moderation. Not exceeding the daily recommended intake of one tablespoon per day.
- Truffles are a form of fungi that grow at the roots of a host tree.
- Truffles are mainly categorized into either black or white truffles.
- Truffles are hunted by specially trained dogs and sometimes even female pigs.
- Truffles are very rare and extremely seasonal.
- In ancient Greece, it was believed that truffles were formed when lightning would strike the damp ground.
- Truffles are known to be the diamond of the kitchen.
- The largest truffle ever found was unearthed in 2014 and weighed 1.9 whole kilograms.
- France just so happens to be the largest producer of truffles in the world.
- For a long time, truffles were considered an aphrodisiac.
- Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have used truffles as medicines.
- There exist more than one hundred different types of truffles that can be found in some twelve countries throughout the world.
- It is a long-standing belief that truffles are mushrooms, which started growing underground to beat forest fires, drought, and the severe cold.
- Many truffle oils and salts are made with chemicals and not actual truffles.
- Until the year 1930, there was only one Royal warrant to hunt for truffles in the United Kingdom. This warrant was given to a family in Wiltshire called the Collins family.
- Seeing how expensive truffles are, it comes as no surprise that there exists a black market for these truly delicious fungi.