Is a truffle a mushroom? – that is the question! Ah – truffles. The crème de la crème of the fine dining world. This oddly shaped ball of umami is highly prized for its rarity and flavor. But is it just an oddly shaped mushroom? Or something else? We dove in and took a look at truffles vs. mushrooms. Let’s get down to it!
Truffles are a fairly well-known ingredient, yet at the same time, they are a huge mystery to most foodies. Their shape is unique — as well as their aroma —, and their flavor adds a very gourmet touch to almost any dish, but even though these characteristics are world-famous, not many people know exactly what they are. Is a truffle a mushroom? Is it a vegetable? Or… Is it made of poop?!
We’ll go ahead and end the suspense… it’s NOT made of poop.
What Food Group Are Truffles? Is A Truffle A Vegetable? Is A Truffle Considered A Mushroom?
Let’s settle this once and for all: although truffles are classified as vegetables, they actually belong to the fungi kingdom. Yes, there are delicious, velvety chocolate ganache treats that go by the same name, but they don’t have anything in common besides their shape. Actual truffles are not sweets, vegetables, or mushrooms, but fungi. That is — for those who want a more scientific approach —, spore-producing organisms that feed on organic matter.
What Is The Difference Between A Truffle And A Mushroom?
The main difference between truffles and edible mushrooms is that truffles always grow underground attached to tree roots, while mushrooms are found above ground in a variety of environments. They essentially can pop up everywhere, not just in forests where conditions are perfect, whereas truffles are pickier — they need specific weather and environment and a lot of time.
Another noticeable difference is the taste. Compared to truffles, mushrooms have a mild flavor, quite different from the rich, pungent, and unique flavor of their counterpart. They may be somewhat similar, but they are very different from each other.
Is A Truffle Like A Mushroom?
Now that we already clarified what is the difference between a truffle and a mushroom, let’s discuss what are the similarities between them. Their most notorious similarity is that although truffles are not mushrooms and mushrooms are not truffles, they both belong to the fungi kingdom, and… That’s about it. Neither their taste, nor their texture, nor shape is similar to that of a mushroom.
Long story short, truffles are vaguely similar to mushrooms, but they are not mushrooms.
Does A Truffle Taste Like Mushrooms?
What characterizes truffles the most? Their taste and smell! Truffles have a strong earthy, musky, and intoxicating flavor, and sadly, the flavor of mushrooms doesn’t even come close. Of course, mushrooms have a pleasant woodsy/meaty flavor — called umami by some connoisseurs — that is a good complement to many dishes, but truffles are in a whole different league.
Is The Texture Of A Truffle The Same As A Mushroom?
Defining the texture of truffles is somewhat difficult since they are mostly shaved or shredded in dishes, but in general, truffles have a firm, spongy texture. Mushrooms, on the other hand, are chewy, even a bit mushy — not so similar textures.
While we’re on the subject of the texture of truffles, let’s also talk about their shape: it’s completely different from most mushrooms. Remember Toad from Mario Bros? Many mushrooms have that umbrella-shaped cap, while truffles are round and lumpy.
Is A Black Truffle A Mushroom?
Just because they are both edible fungi does not mean they are the same thing — black truffles are not mushrooms. Maybe they are distant cousins since they belong to the same food group, but they are not the same thing. Can you imagine eating a whole black truffle just as some people eat whole mushrooms? You’d be tasting truffles for the whole day!
Is A White Truffle A Mushroom?
White truffles are the ones that most resemble — in physical appearance — the mushrooms you buy in any grocery store to add to your pizza due to their color; however, these truffles are still not mushrooms. Just to give you an example, 1 ounce of whole mushrooms costs about 22 cents, while 1 ounce of white mushrooms costs about $211.64. Let that sink in.