Truffle Oil: A Dirty Truth

When someone asks how is truffle oil made, what comes to mind? Small pieces of dried truffle steeped in olive oil. Right? Wrong!

“Comparing truffle oil with real truffles is like comparing sniffing dirty panties to having sex.”

Here is how this all began. Recently, I have been craving steak and truffle shoestring fries. I order it for dinner everywhere I go. Real truffles are extremely expensive; a few thin shaves can set one back hundreds of dollars. So, having truffle oil as an alternative food flavouring makes for a real treat.

Truffle oil seems an easier and cheaper way for restaurant chefs to add truffle aroma to an otherwise boring dish – like french fries. And stick on a higher price tag. People are ordering. And why not? It’s an inexpensive way to taste these heavenly morsels and gives your fries a new lease of flavour.

Problem is, truffle oil is not made from truffles. Truffle oil is olive oil mixed with an organic chemical compound called 2,4-dithiapenthane – derived either naturally or from a petroleum base – to create the flavour of truffle oil. In other words, it is perfumed olive oil. Some truffle oil contain higher grades of olive oil and are therefore healthier than lower grade olive oil. Lower grade oils are mixed with safflower oil, walnut oil and other oils to give truffle oil its fragrance and taste.

Knowing this, what do I do with my truffle fries craving…? 

I wish I could be like late celebrity chef Jean-Louis Palladin, who upon returning from a trip out of town found bottles of truffle oil cropping up in his restaurant’s kitchen. He went into a rage; grabbed two bottles of truffle oil, called his confused and frightened staff out into the restaurant’s back alley, threw the bottles against a wall and screamed ‘It’s full of chemicals. No more!’

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