Truffles are coveted across the world for their intoxicating, intense, yet difficult-to-define flavours. They add a certain intangible and nuanced taste to foods that can’t be found in any other ingredient on earth. And the rarity of truffles only makes them more desirable. So what do truffles taste like?
The exact flavour of truffles is difficult to put your finger on, but we’ll give it a try. They’re so much more than a really intense, expensive mushroom. Referred to as the diamonds of the kitchen, they’re the most sought after funghi in the world for their taste, aroma, and ability to enhance almost any dish, bringing it to a gourmet level.
Black truffles are often described as earthy, woody, or even chocolatey. Of course, they may also have a faint mushroom flavour, because after all, that’s what they are. Others might say that their earthiness is more gamey or meaty in taste. And of course, depending on where truffles are grown, they can have slightly different flavours – the soil, the harvest season, and the region can all impact the taste.
White truffles (Tuber magnatum pico) are slightly different, with a deeper, stronger flavour. More rare and expensive, these Italian white truffles are said to have a slightly garlic or shallot-like taste with a musky fragrance that can range from subtle to pungent.
Above all, truffle flavours are nuanced and subtle. For that reason, even strong truffles don’t tend to overwhelm other ingredients. Oftentimes, it’s the aroma that you’ll find most powerful. Their fragrance can be described as oaky, nutty, earthy, sulfurous, or even slightly sweet with olive-like savoury notes, and the taste of truffles often mimics the way they smell in a lighter way. Others have said that truffles have a heady scent reminiscent ofrich, damp, autumn leaves, which makes sense as they grow underground where they can soak up and condense all those earthy, umami flavours. The aroma of truffles is even rumoured to give you the feeling of being a bit drugged or even amorous. Overall, the taste and scent of truffles is both enticing and funky, exquisite and complex.
To impart the unique flavours of truffle to a dish, they may be shaved over a finished meal, such as a dish of pasta, risotto, or eggs. But of course, this is an extremely costly way to do it, as purchasing whole truffles can be quite the undertaking. Infused truffle oils and salts can be a more approachable (and affordable) way to experiment with truffle flavours at home.
Be careful when choosing these products, however, because most truffle oils found on supermarket shelves don’t actually contain any truffles. Rather, they’re made with artificial, synthetic truffle flavour that imitates the taste and scent (often too intensely). And while these oils can still be delicious drizzled over French fries or pizza, they don’t come anywhere close to a real truffle experience!
To really get that intoxicating flavour, you have to use the real thing. Find products that are made with actual truffles and other natural ingredients. For instance,Zest & Zing’s truffle oils are made in Italy, where organic, extra virgin olive oil is pressed with real truffles to create that intense and addictive truffle flavour and aroma. Our award-winningtruffle sea salts are also made with natural truffles for an authentic taste, and they’re perfect for sprinkling on everything from snacks to elegant dishes. These olive oils and sea salts will give you that luxurious truffle flavour, and a little bit of the real thing goes a long way.
In short, there’s really no substitute for the flavour of truffles, and for that reason, they’re one of the few high-end culinary ingredients that are truly worth the cost.