What it is: A truffle is a mushroom fungus that grows underground. They usually live off the nutrients supplied by trees, meaning their usual location is around the roots of large plants and trees. Truffles are usually black or white, with slight color variations in between. Truffles are difficult to grow, often taking years to fully seed and produce and despite being a widely cultivated delicacy in the early 1900s, the two world wars put a severe dent in their production – they’ve never fully recovered the same production levels, meaning they’re very expensive and considered a rare delicacy. Truffles are most commonly harvested using specially trained pigs or dogs that are trained to detect the special truffle odor.
How it tastes: Truffles have a slight mushroom flavor like their relatives, but have deeper, earthier undertones. They are slightly reminiscent of wood or nuts. Because of the different varities, truffle flavor can differ depending on the source of the truffles. People who don’t like them say they taste like dirty mushrooms.
Tips: Truffles are very expensive to buy because of the difficulty in cultivation and harvesting. For a slightly cheaper chance to taste the truffle flavor, try truffle oil instead of fresh truffles, in your cooking.
If you do plan to buy these you’ll probably need to do so in a speciality store. Fungus truffles are also often confused with chocolate truffles, a sweet (and much cheaper) confectionery.