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What do truffles (the fungi) taste like?

I'm just curious. I saw it on television the other day.

I just know that they're expensive and i know i probably won't buy any anytime soon. I don't know much about them either.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Uncooked? I was shocked at how unimpressive the flavor of raw shaved truffle was. It was kind of earthy, not particularly strong in flavor; in this case the truffle was probably not fresh enough. When heated and allowed to release their full flavor and aroma into food though, they are phenomenal. There's a rich, luscious taste and smell, with an almost petrol pungency to it. The latter is primarily from the 2,4-dithiapentane, which truffle oil replicates, although it has a harsher and less complex flavor. Truffle oil will give you this top note, but without any of the additional layered complexity.

All this said, different people have different reactions, and freshness matters greatly for raw truffles. If you really want to try truffle, canned or jarred truffle can be had in small quantities for under $20. The flavor is quite distinctive, unique, and pairs well with cream, milk, cheese, and butter.

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Truffle oil is also relatively cheap and conveys some of the deep umami flavour of the truffle itself. Beautiful drizzled in homemade mushroom soup. – ElendilTheTall Jul 19 '11 at 8:16
When you say raw, are you just referring to black truffles? Although I've never cooked with white truffles, everything I've read says to use them raw as their flavor breaks down with cooking. – yossarian Jul 19 '11 at 15:02
Black winter truffles. Well, and black summer truffles which are like a weaker version. I can't speak to white truffles. – BobMcGee Jul 19 '11 at 15:16

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