Truffle oil is simply a food grade oil that fresh or dried truffles (similar to a mushroom) have been added to. The exotic fungus saturates the oil with all of its earthy, umami flavor - giving cooks an affordable way to get that delicious flavor in all kinds of dishes. Read on for everything you need to know about types and varieties of these fungi, as well as how to use them.
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What Is Truffle Oil?
It originated as a way to add the luxurious flavor of truffles to dishes without the extreme cost of the fresh product. In order to make it a light oil is infused with pieces of truffle and stored until the it carries both the flavor and scent of the fungus.
All Oil Is Not the Same
With the popularity of food shows, food reality television, and celebrity chefs more home-cooks are using exotic ingredients than ever before. Saffron, wild caught salmon, and truffles used to be ingredients found only in five star kitchens but today these ingredients, and thousands like them, are available to almost everyone.
While there are plenty of truffle oils available commercially you have to be careful - some of them are chemically flavored while others taste like a slice of truffle has been waved over it for a few seconds.
The really good kind is not cheap - but you can make it yourself relatively inexpensively.
Ingredients for Homemade Truffle Oil
- Truffles are the most important ingredient. Get good ones - fresh, dried, or brined. If you use brined be sure to rinse well.
- Oil - olive oil is often used but you could use any light flavored type.
- Sterilized canning jar with a twist on lid that's been sterilized, too.
What Is a Truffle?
Simply put, it is a fungus like a mushroom but grows underground near certain species of trees. The type is dependent on the type of tree it grows by.
It reproduces by spores like other fungi, however since the spores of a truffle cannot be released underground they are spread in the feces of the animals that eat them.
How Are They Harvested?
Finding truffles is traditionally done with a "truffle hog". This is a female pig that naturally searches for the treat as part of her diet.
Recently dogs have begun to be trained to sniff out this delicacy because it is difficult to keep the pigs from eating the harvest!
It's not an easy task and can be quite time consuming - that's why they can be expensive! They can sell for as much as $95.00 USD an ounce (2019).
There are several types. Most are considered either white or black, although there is a variety that is considered red because its flavor is reminiscent of berries.
This is the black truffle on the menu of many gourmet restaurants. It grows by oak and hazelnut trees and can reach weights of up to 4 ounces each. They grow primarily in France, although some other European countries have them, and are harvested in the autumn and winter months.
A type of black truffle that has been well known in the world of the gourmand since medieval times. It has a coffee colored interior and smells a bit like cornmeal. It is most often used with fresh vegetables.
These black truffles have a hard shell and dark flesh with veins of white running throughout. It has a light scent and delicate flavor and is very inexpensive. Oils made with this truffle will not have the rich flavor of other truffle oils and this is what you most often find at your grocers.
This species of black truffle has a garlicky scent and a smooth surface skin dotted with warts.
This is a uniquely sweet truffle that is found in Hungary. This member of the white truffle family it is found near black locust trees. It is often used in desserts and ice creams.
The Italian white truffle is considered to be the most luxurious of all. It has a flavor that combines garlic and shallots with an earthy mushroom flavor and scent.
Pecan truffles grow in the Southern United States around pecan trees. They are only just starting to be used in commercial kitchens but sell for over $600.00 USD a pound (2019).
Here are the questions I am most frequently asked about this recipe.
What does truffle oil taste like?
It is a little hard to describe. It has a similar earthy, musky flavor to mushrooms but are a little nuttier.
Should I refrigerate it?
It's definitely best to keep it in the fridge.
Does it taste like truffles?
Most inexpensive, commercial kinds do not taste like truffles but when you make it homemade with good oil and fresh or dried truffles it is amazing.
Using Truffle Oil in Recipes
Often the oil is lightly sprinkled over a dish just before serving. This allows the aroma to be at its peak. Try a sprinkle of homemade truffle oil on -
- Garlic bread
Recipes to Try
Here are some of my favorite recipes to use with this oil -
- Southern Baked Mac and Cheese with Beer is creamy, gooey, cheesy, and has a crispy topping like old fashioned macaroni and cheese - I like a little drizzle of the oil over the top just before serving.
- Alfredo Chicken Lasagna has a rich, creamy sauce that is really enhanced by the truffle flavor. Try it!
- Classic Southern Gravy should normally NOT be messed with but a little touch of this is SO nice...
- Meatloaf Stuffed Bell Peppers already have ALL the smoky flavor and the addition of the oil is over the top.
- Potato soup is true comfort food - and when you just drizzle a tiny bit of this on the top it's indescribable!
You May Need...
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You'll definitely want some bottles to store it in. I like these glass bottles with stoppers.
How to Make Truffle Oil
For the best flavor, and to ensure that you are using the real thing, you can make your own with any type of truffle you prefer. The black varieties tend to have a richer flavor while the white is more delicate.
Use any oil that you like, including a good olive oil.
Truffle Oil RecipePrint Save Recipe
- 1 teaspoon fresh truffle, (you can also use ½ teaspoon of dried, or 1 teaspoon of brined – just make sure to drain thoroughly)
- 1 cup olive oil, extra virgin
- 1 sterilized pint jar with sterile screw on lid
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- Chop the truffle into small pieces.
- Add to the oil.
- Add the mixture to the jar.
- Shake the jar well and store in a cool, dark place.
- Shake daily for one week.
- The oil will be good to use at the end of a week but will continue to strengthen as it sits.
- Once opened keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Nutrition information is estimated as a courtesy. If using for medical purposes, please verify information using your own nutritional calculator. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
First published... June 7, 2012... last updated Feb 17, 2020