Tasting a real truffle is considered a bucket-list experience by many.
Just a sniff or one little taste is all it takes to understand what all the fuss is about. The flavours and aromas are richly complex and enticing.
“I don’t like truffles”
I’m convinced that most people who don’t like truffles are turned off by the artificial aromas and flavourings that pass themselves off as “truffle flavour” in many products. They're too strong, overpowering, flat, and often have a chemical aftertaste.
Tasting a real truffle is a completely different experience.
The first time I tasted a real truffle it was profoundly shocking how different it was from anything I’d ever tasted before.
Listening to a Tin Can
Tasting most "truffle-flavoured" products is like listening to music on a tin can and string.
Sure, you get an impression of what the song is like. But it’s not until you put on a pair of high-fidelity headphones that you can appreciate how balanced and intricate and nuanced that music really is.
Black Truffles are now in season! Order one now for Valentine’s Day.
Flavours & Aromas
So, what does a real truffle smell and taste like? Here are some characteristics common to all truffles.
Earthy: This is the most common descriptor for truffles (not terribly surprising given that they grow underground). Imagine the rich, damp scent of a forest floor.
Musky: A deep, savoury aroma that can be slightly pungent or animal-y.
Umami: A savoury and meaty flavour often found in beef broth, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, or cooked mushrooms.
Fresh black truffles (Perigord truffles) like these have a strong earthy flavour with notes of garlic and hazelnut.
Types of Truffle
There are different varieties of truffle that layer more specific and nuanced flavours and aromas on top of these base characteristics.
White Truffles (tuber magnatum)
Known for its intense, almost garlicky aroma and more delicate flavor. Sometimes described as having hints of honey, white pepper, or even cheese.
Black Truffles (tuber melanosporum)
Has a stronger, earthier, and more pungent flavor than white truffles. Has notes of chocolate, hazelnut, or garlic.
Summer Truffles (tuber aestivum)
Has a milder flavor and aroma than other truffles. Aroma like porcini mushrooms. Flavour is often described as fruity or nutty.
Keep in mind the aroma of a truffle is usually bolder than its flavour. With your first taste, you’ll likely find the flavor less intense than you expect given the powerful scent.
Truffles are typically used in small quantities, shaved with a truffle slicer, or grated over dishes like pasta, risotto, shellfish, or eggs. Their purpose is to enhance the overall flavor, not overpower it.
Black Truffles are now in season! Treat yourself or surprise someone with a real truffle! It’s perfect for a Valentine’s dinner (or breakfast the next morning).