Truffles are difficult to grow, hard to find, and they look a little like lumps of charcoal. They are also one of the most expensive foods in the world. Both black and white truffles are expensive but have their own differences in taste, aroma, and texture.
Truffles are a type of edible mushroom. As such, they have a deep earthy, mushroom-like flavor with notes of garlic and nuttiness. They have a hard, dense texture and, as such, are almost always sliced before eating.
While the flavor of a truffle is very unique, its aroma might be even more so.
How Do Truffles Get Their Flavor
Unlike regular mushrooms, truffles grow underground fastened to tree roots. The unique flavor of truffles comes essentially, from leaching nutrients out of the trees.
Fun fact: they used to use pigs to hunt for truffles. They would let the pigs sniff at all the tree roots to find the powerful aroma of the truffle. However, the pigs found the truffles as tasty as we did and they were relieved of their duties.
White truffles are smoother with a slightly yellow appearance. They are the more expensive of the two truffles. Partly because they are only harvested for one month and partly because they have such a particular aroma.
The aroma of white truffles is a musty, garlic smell. It’s very specific, but once the truffle is cut, it doesn’t linger.
White truffles have a particularly sweet, garlicky taste. They are used most often as a garnish for soups and salad. This is done similarly to how you would use parmesan cheese.
Black truffles are rough and rigid. While less expensive than white truffles, they are still expensive.
Both the flavor and aroma of black truffles have an earthy, nuttiness about them. They can also be slightly bitter. They are used most often in sauces.
If truffles are a little out of your price zone, maybe invest in some truffle oil. It’s still expensive at around $15-20 more than olive oil, but it’ll last a while.
When buying truffle oil you’ll want to make sure you’re buying good truffle oil. A cheap truffle oil will taste somewhat like truffles, but it lacks the complexity of the flavors of actual truffles.
Generally, truffle oil tastes more garlic and earthy than anything else. However, it’s still nice to toss your vegetables with.
Truffle salt, like its oil counterpart, is likely to be more affordable than actual truffles. You can get around 4 oz for $20.
Also similar to truffle oil, you want to make sure you are buying good truffle salt. Good truffle salts come with small pieces of truffle mixed into the salt.
Since truffles are so aromatic, the truffles penetrate the coarse salt. This makes for a lovely aroma each time you open the jar. Usually made with black truffles, this will have a strong earthy, garlicky taste.
Be careful to buy salt with actual truffle pieces and not salt infused with artificial truffle flavor.
How Long Do Truffles Last
Let’s say you do manage to get your hands on some of those premium white truffles. At over $1500 per pound, they’d better last forever, right? Unfortunately not.
White truffles have a shelf life of about five days, and black ones are good for about seven. However, you can freeze them in an airtight container once they’ve been cleaned, for up to six months.
But you should keep in mind that as soon as the truffles are harvested, they begin to lose their smell. That aroma is part of their flavor palate. So you should really use them as soon as possible.