Black Truffle: What Does this Gourmet Ingredient Taste Like?
When people hear the words “black truffle” they automatically think of fine, elegant cuisine and delicious food. And while chances are you’ve heard of this delicacy, many people haven’t yet had the pleasure of tasting it. So what exactly do truffles taste like, and what are the best ways to enjoy them? Let’s take a look at this delicious ingredient and how to eat it!
What is a black truffle?
The black truffle is a species of fungus that is native to Southern Europe, in countries such as Spain, France and Italy, and are used in the cuisines of these countries. The cream of the crop when it comes to black truffles are the Périgord variety, from France. Truffles grow beneath loose soil, usually near the roots of oak, hazel and cherry trees, among others.
In Spain, the tradition of collecting truffles and other wild mushrooms is something that goes back generations. Eastern and northeastern Spain in particular have high concentrations of this edible gem. Traditionally, dogs or pigs pick up the scent of the truffles underground and alert their owners to the scent. Black truffles give off an earthy aroma, which is the result of their interactions with neighboring plants, animals and insects. It’s also due to these interactions that truffles can reproduce. They release spores, which ensures that truffles can continue to grow.
What does it taste like?
So what exactly do these mushrooms taste like? Truffles have a deep aroma and strong fragrance that are a prelude to their taste. Earthy, musky and pungent, the best way to describe their taste is by putting them in the umami category. Also known as the fifth taste, this lesser-known flavor is savory and reminiscent of meat, broth, and fish. Black truffles evoke this taste, an almost buttery, garlicky, olivey, mushroomy, fragrance that’s completely unique. Because of their unique taste, they can amplify and intensify the flavors of the dishes that they’re paired with. Black truffles are available between six to nine months of the year, and are more readily available than the priciest variety, the prized white truffle. Because truffles now grow in more places across the world, they’re more accessible for consumption and not restricted to solely gourmet cuisine.
How to enjoy it
The wonderful thing about black truffles is that they are now more accessible than ever. It’s important to note that truffles are best when used fresh and only have a shelf life of a couple weeks or less, following proper storage. Keep your truffles individually wrapped in paper towels and then put inside a sealed glass jar. Keep the jar in the veggie crisper for maximum freshness. Black truffles can also be frozen, so don’t worry if you can’t finish them that quick. Wrap them in aluminum foil or freezer bags, squeezing out all of the air. They can be kept in the freezer for up to three months.
A great way that you can incorporate this delicious ingredient into your kitchen is through truffle oil. You can infuse your already-delicious Spanish olive oil with black truffles, and then use it to finish off a dish for an explosion of flavor. Lightly drizzle it over your favorite meat or mushroom dishes, or even incorporate it into your favorite vinaigrette to give your salads a pop of flavor. You only need a small amount of truffle oil to liven up a dish, so use it sparingly!
You can also top off egg, chicken, pasta and rice dishes with thinly sliced truffles to instantly amplify the flavor. A recipe that is quite famous and sure to please is for truffle risotto, a hearty comfort food that will leave you wanting more. You can also use your truffles to make truffle butter, a creamy, sinful spread that goes great with so many different foods!
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