No to Truffle Oil

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truffle oil, arthur schwartz, the three tomatoesI hate truffle oil. Maybe you’ve heard me say this before.

 I love truffles – white, black, beige, summer truffles, fall truffles, winter truffles, the ones you cook, the ones you eat raw. I love any kind of truffle, real truffles. They’re sexy. But I hate truffle oil. And most truffle paste, too.

 Let’s start with: Truffles don’t contain oil. Truffles are a fungus, like mushrooms, but they grow below ground, not above ground. That’s why truffles are so hard to find, and why pigs and dogs, with their superior sense of smell, have to sniff them out for humans to dig up. Truffle oil is merely oil that has been scented or flavored with truffles – when it is real truffle oil, which does exist.

 However, most truffle oil, and most truffle pastes or spreads – I’m guessing 99 percent these days – is not an infusion of truffles and oil, but oil or paste with a chemical added to make it smell like truffles and taste like truffles. These products have as much to do with truffles as cherry Lifesavers have to do with cherries.

 Yes, most truffle oil is nothing more than artificially scented oil, and who knows what kind of oil. It’s not top-grade olive oil, I can tell you that.

 The chemical that gives that truffle scent is Bis-(Methylthio)methane. It is apparently easily synthesized at a fraction of the cost of real truffles. I find it enhancing truffle paste, too, and almost any product boasting truffles, including cheese flavored with truffles. The give-away is the words “truffle aroma” on the label. That’s Bis(Methylthio)methane.

 There is such a thing as truffle oil scented only with real truffles, generally the shavings, scrapings, essentially the leftovers or byproducts of canning, jarring, in general the processing of truffles. You won’t find this truffle oil in a bottle in a grocery store. You’d have to make it yourself, and you know how much truffles cost.

 Okay, I got the truffle oil thing off my chest

 

Author

  • About Arthur: The New York Times Magazine called Arthur Schwartz “a walking Google of food and restaurant knowledge.” As the restaurant critic and executive food editor of the New York Daily News, which he was for 18 years, he was called The Schwartz Who Ate New York. Nowadays, he is best known as The Food Maven, the name of his website. Whatever the sobriquet, he is acknowledged as one of the country’s foremost experts on food, cooking, culinary history, restaurants, and restaurant history. Visit Arthur At: www.foodmaven.com

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