The taste and scent of truffles is so highly sought after that the price of these delicacies has driven them out of reach for most people. Truffle oil is often used as a less expensive alternative to fresh truffles, but most oils on the market today are produced with synthetic flavors. Therefore, for those that value the taste of truffles and the authenticity of ingredients, making your own truffle oil is a necessity.
Truffles and Gourmet Meals
Few ingredients can transform the simple into the gourmet faster than the inclusion of truffles. These expensive and relatively rare mushrooms have been used in gourmet cooking since before the Middle Ages. Truffles impart a strong and earthy flavor to the foods they are paired with and a very small amount of truffle flavor can go a long way. Truffles are in fact frequently shaved down to slivers before being inserted into meat and other dishes. Because of the high cost associated with using truffles in everyday cooking, less expensive oils are becoming the go-to solution for many chefs who value the flavor of a truffle as well as their pocketbook.
Types of Truffle Oil
Pure truffle oil can be created from any species of truffle by slicing the tuber into thin pieces and infusing them in olive oil. Because this method requires the use of a truffle, and can impart less flavor than the full-strength truffle itself, many people opt to use synthetic truffle oils instead.
Synthetic oils also begin with an olive oil base, but use chemicals to produce the truffle flavor. The result is a stronger flavored oil that costs less. For those that believe that truly gourmet cooking should use only the best, synthetic truffle oils are not a substitute for the real thing.
Creating Pure Truffle Oil
It is very difficult to find oil that is truly made from truffles as opposed to synthetic flavoring. Many manufacturers will include the word "aroma" in their ingredients, meaning that they have used an artificial flavoring with the aroma of truffles. Some manufacturers also claim to use flavors that came from the truffle, but are not actually truffle.
True truffle oil is easy to produce at home, provided that you have access to truffles. The benefit of using oil, rather than the truffle itself, is the ability to stretch one truffle a lot further, flavoring dozens of dishes instead of only one or two.
There are several methods for making truffle oil at home. All oils should be stored in a cool, dark place after producing to help prevent the truffle flavor from fading over time. The oils you make can be refrigerated to help preserve the flavor; remove from refrigeration just prior to using and return immediately to prevent degradation.
Use very light-tasting oil as the base for your truffle oil to impart the most truffle flavor. A light olive oil or grapeseed oil will work well.
Cold Infusion Method
- Chop the truffle or truffles into the smallest pieces you are able and press any liquid out of them between two paper towels. The smaller the truffle dice, the better the oil will absorb the flavor.
- Soak the pieces of truffle in the oil for one week.
- Place a small truffle inside a food processer with a few tablespoons of oil.
- Pulse on high until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into a bottle of oil and store for at least one week before using.
- Shave the truffle as thin as possible and place in a large saucepan filled with oil.
- Heat to 210F and hold at this temperature for five minutes.
- Cool and pour into bottles. Can be used immediately.
Savoring Every Drop
If you choose to use some fresh truffles to make your own oil, be sure to use it in a variety of dishes before the flavor fades. Try pairing the oil with meats, vegetables and risotto dishes until you find the base that reflects the flavor of the truffle the best. Truffles pair well with many savory dishes; bring their flavor to more offerings at your table with oil today.