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Make your own truffle oil


Magictofu
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The recent "discovery" that all truffle oils are fake created some heated debate among restaurateurs and food enthusiasts recently.

I am not among those who are particularly bothered by this fact and would not necessarily avoid food containing truffle oil... I might even find the smell quite pleasant and apetizing. Of course, its omnipresence in restaurants is annoying but I think the trend is dying.

I am a bit concerned however at the very high price of these oils... if they are made of synthetic aroma, I assume they should be much cheaper. Of course, sometimes it is the high price that push uneducated consummers to buy such products (for prestige or because they believe it is necessary of better quality).

Yesterday, I saw a short piece on truffle oil on TV. It is not the best food show on TV, far from it, but they were able to fool a specialist by creating their own "truffle oil" by adding a few drops of truffle aroma bought on internet to olive oil. Their oil cost about $1.50 per bottle compared to the usual $15-$30 we are used to pay. (you can find the show, in French at here).

I was very curious about this whole homemade truffle oil thing (particularly after the success of the homemade vanilla extract thread) and did some research online but found very little and most was in French. Here's a list of what I found:

http://www.patiwizz.com/catalogue/arome_de...mpignons_14.php

http://solubarome.free.fr/sale.htm

http://truffiere.free.fr/magdelatruffe/art...3?id_article=22

I was wondering if any of you ever tried using these extracts to make truffle oil. If so, how was the result?

Any luck with other kinds of aromas?

How natural/chemical does it feel?

How difficult is it to get such products in North America?

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Using extracts to make truffle oil has something distinctly akin to using gasoline instead of after-shave lotion.

To make true truffle oil is the simplest thing in the world - buy one firm white or black truffle, clean it (leaving the residue for making stock or sauces) and drop the truffle (wth reverence into a bottle of extra virgin olive oil (depending on your taste either a spicy or mild), seal well to keep air from entering (if you use a wine bottle you can vacu-vin the bottle). Let stand for two weeks in a cool but not cold place and out of the sun and poof - truffle oil.

The more finely grated the truffle the more intense will be the flavor of the oil but do not hesitate to use a whole truffle for after the oil is finished (and you can replenish the oil 5 - 6 times) the truffle can be used as it usually would.

My personal favorites for such oil-soaked truffles - grated over scrambled eggs, grated over potato gnocchi om a bitter-gar;oc sauce; in thin slices,coated and fried tempura style or, if you are a true hedomist, whole, wrapped in flaky pastry and deep fried.

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Using extracts to make truffle oil has something distinctly akin to using gasoline instead of after-shave lotion.

To make true truffle oil is the simplest thing in the world - buy one firm white or black truffle, clean it (leaving the residue for making stock or sauces) and drop the truffle (wth reverence into a bottle of extra virgin olive oil (depending on your taste either a spicy or mild), seal well to keep air from entering (if you use a wine bottle you can vacu-vin the bottle).  Let stand for two weeks in a cool but not cold place and out of the sun and poof - truffle oil.

The more finely grated the truffle the more intense will be the flavor of the oil but do not hesitate to use a whole truffle for after the oil is finished (and you can replenish the oil 5 - 6 times) the truffle can be used as it usually would. 

My personal favorites for such oil-soaked truffles - grated over scrambled eggs, grated over potato gnocchi om a bitter-gar;oc sauce; in thin slices,coated and fried tempura style or, if you are a true hedomist, whole, wrapped in flaky pastry and deep fried.

I haven't watched the clip (don't speak French) but if the expert was fooled, wouldn't it be more akin to using gasoline instead of aftershave and not being able to tell the difference?

Not to say there isn't value to using real truffles for oil, but if you can't detect the difference and there isn't anything terrible or unhealthy about the extract, why not go for it.

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I haven't watched the clip (don't speak French) but if the expert was fooled, wouldn't it be more akin to using gasoline instead of aftershave and not being able to tell the difference?

Not to say there isn't value to using real truffles for oil, but if you can't detect the difference and there isn't anything terrible or unhealthy about the extract, why not go for it.

This TV show is not known for getting the best people to talk about their chosen topic... and considering that Quebec's cuisine is not known for its use of truffles (as opposed to pork, foie gras and mapple syrup)... the "expert" might not be the most qualified person to judge the oil. But at the same time making real truffle oil just seem like a waste to me... If I had he money to buy truffles, I think I would try to use it as fresh as possible.

That being said, I am still surprised that truffle oil is made with olive oil... I have the feeling that olives and truffles don't mix so well and that a lighter oil would be preferable... but I only had truffles a few times in my life and my memory is failing.

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Not to say there isn't value to using real truffles for oil, but if you can't detect the difference and there isn't anything terrible or unhealthy about the extract, why not go for it.

Which would you rather own - a Vermeer painting or one of Elmy de Hory's excellent forgeries? Those forgeries fooled some of the world's great art critics and museum curators. The forgeries go for about $15,000 each these days. The originals are worth millions.

Returning to the issue of imitation truffle oil - we also have imitation butter, imitation whipped cream, imitation caviar and imitation crab meat. I can promise you that real butter, real whipped cream, real caviar and real crab meat taste a heckuva lot better.

There is an old adage, common I believe to nearly every philosophical point of view on earth: "If it is like an egg, it is not as good as an egg"

Edited by Daniel Rogov (log)
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Not to say there isn't value to using real truffles for oil, but if you can't detect the difference and there isn't anything terrible or unhealthy about the extract, why not go for it.

Which would you rather own - a Vermeer painting or one of Elmy de Hory's excellent forgeries? Those forgeries fooled some of the world's great art critics and museum curators. The forgeries go for about $15,000 each these days. The originals are worth millions.

Returning to the issue of imitation truffle oil - we also have imitation butter, imitation whipped cream, imitation caviar and imitation crab meat. I can promise you that real butter, real whipped cream, real caviar and real crab meat taste a heckuva lot better.

There is an old adage, common I believe to nearly every philosophical point of view on earth: "If it is like an egg, it is not as good as an egg"

But....if the truffle oil you buy, is made from the aroma why not make your own,with the aroma, that will be the same, for much much less....From what I have read ,most all truffle oil is bogus..

Bud

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While I don't think the sources I've seen have actually demonstrated that all truffle oil is fake, I nonetheless think this would be an interesting experiment.

The chemical at issue is 2,4-dithiapentane. So, where does one get it and what do you have to do to it? Do you just put a few drops in some truffle oil or is there a process? And what's the recommended ratio?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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While I don't think the sources I've seen have actually demonstrated that all truffle oil is fake, I nonetheless think this would be an interesting experiment.

The chemical at issue is 2,4-dithiapentane. So, where does one get it and what do you have to do to it? Do you just put a few drops in some truffle oil or is there a process? And what's the recommended ratio?

I doubt there would be a single chemical in the aroma of truffles... white and black truffles are definitely different animals so I guess they have different chemical characteristics.

Again in French, I found this listof chemicals found in the aroma of black truffle (tuber melanosporum):

dimethylsulfure 7,5%

acetaldéhyde 4,5%

2-méthylpropanal 5%

2-méthylbutanal 4%

ethanol 27%

2-méthyl1propanol 21%

2-méthyl1butanal 17%

acétone 8%

2-butanone 2,5%

1 propanol 2

I'm no chemist so I won't try to translate.

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Which would you rather own - a Vermeer painting or one of Elmy de Hory's excellent forgeries?  Those forgeries fooled some of the world's great art critics and museum curators.  The forgeries go for about $15,000 each these days.  The originals are worth millions. 

Returning to the issue of imitation truffle oil - we also have imitation butter, imitation whipped cream, imitation caviar and imitation crab meat.  I can promise you that real butter, real whipped cream, real caviar and real crab meat taste a heckuva lot better.

There is an old adage, common I believe to nearly every philosophical point of view on earth:  "If it is like an egg, it is not as good as an egg"

The question should be: "which you would rather buy", not "which would you rather own"... even then, the distinction is dubious because the value of such painting has little to do with the quality of the art itself but is influenced, in this case, with the place of Vermeer in art history.

On the issue of imitation I would say that we have good imitations these days and terrible ones too. But in this case, it is not even a question of imitation because most if not all truffle oils on the market are made in a similar way (often adding a few truffle shavings but still mainly aromatised with chemicals). And when you think of it, artificial vanilla is hard to distinguish from real vanilla in many preparations (ok, not in a vanilla custard but in a chocolate brownie...).

I personnaly like truffle oil, although I find its omnipresence anoying. I am an enthusiast mushroom hunter and find that a bit of truffle oil, no matter how fake, always add a nice musky aroma to any mushroom dish. It serves as a nice accent to an already delicious dish. Since truffle oil almost never take center stage, I think it would be wasteful anyway to spend hundreds of dollars on real truffle oil when you can get something nice for few bucks.

The chemical side of it is somewhat frightening but then the 'molecular gastronomy' guys are doing very nice things with similar products.

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As I understand it, the compound 2,4-dithiapentane is the foremost flavor in white truffles. Similar to how vanillin is the dominant flavor in vanilla. Of course there are lots of other flavors, but you can get a lot of mileage out of just using the primary flavor.

So . . . where can we get 2,4-dithiapentane? And once we have it, how do we convert it into fake white truffle oil? I mean, it's interesting to speculate but I'd like to order up some 2,4-dithiapentane, mix it with oil and taste it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The first two links in the first post goes to firms that sells concentrated truffle aroma (among a lot of other aromas). But there is of course no way of knowing if they are any good.

I can definitely smell differences between truffle oils although I suspect that they are almost all synthetic. So, in my opinion there are better and worse fakes.

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dimethylsulfure  7,5% 

acetaldéhyde  4,5% 

2-méthylpropanal  5% 

2-méthylbutanal  4% 

ethanol  27% 

2-méthyl1propanol  21%

2-méthyl1butanal  17% 

acétone  8% 

2-butanone  2,5% 

1 propanol  2

Why do I have the distinct feeling that I would much rather find most of those "ingredients" in the motor of my car and not in my digestive system?

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dimethylsulfure  7,5% 

acetaldéhyde  4,5% 

2-méthylpropanal  5% 

2-méthylbutanal  4% 

ethanol  27% 

2-méthyl1propanol  21%

2-méthyl1butanal  17% 

acétone  8% 

2-butanone  2,5% 

1 propanol  2

Why do I have the distinct feeling that I would much rather find most of those "ingredients" in the motor of my car and not in my digestive system?

I belive that was a list of stuff found in real black truffles.

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I truly do not mean to be argumentative but there are huge (I am tempted to use the word humongous) differences between things that are found in nature and those that are produced in the laboratory.

Ethanol is, of course, grain alcohol which is found in most alcoholic beverages but when taken in too high portions can be poisonous. I sincerely doubt that any truffle ever found on this planet or any other had a 27% alcohol content. If so that might explain why truffle-snuffers (primarily pigs and beagles) so love snuffling for truffles.

As to acetone - also known as dimethyl formaldehyde, the main uses are in nail polishy remover and in the preservation of parts of dead bodies - that too is a quite deadly poison and would make either snuffling for or dining on truffles a rather dangerous experience.

As to what we "can" do and what we "want" to do with regard to foods that enter and become parts of our bodies may I respectfully suggest a glance at my little artice at http://www.stratsplace.com/rogov/gastronomes_nightmare.html

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I belive that was a list of stuff found in real black truffles.

Per Fat Guy, Daniel Patterson's May-16 major exposé article (New York Times food section and syndicated throughout the US -- I hope you all saw it) did not formally demonstrate all commercial truffles oils as fake but more or less asserted that, to little industry denial. (I also wonder about the suggestion early in this thread that the retail price of products is tied somehow more to manufacturing cost than to what the market is willing to pay.)

FYI, in online truffle discussions a commentator (who separately advertises and advocates cheap domestic truffle species) commented to me about Patterson's conclusions, "While synthetic, [truffle oils] are not unnatural." That is along the Orwellian lines of euphemistic replies Patterson quoted from manufacturers of the oil. This whole situation is, moreover, only part of a wider truffle hustle underway for a few years now, bizarre to people like me who've dealt even casually with truffles in cooking for many years and are astounded by minor cheap nearly flavorless species brazenly sold (and bought) as "black truffles" (fraudulent vis-à-vis normal understanding of that term as T. melanosporum with centuries of history in cooking writing). This and related practices are now warping the understanding of truffles among the public encountering them for the first time.

--

"Most commercial truffle oils are concocted by mixing olive oil with one or more compounds like 2,4-dithiapentane ... their one-dimensional flavor is also changing common understanding of how a truffle should taste. ... [some chefs] are surprised to hear that truffle oil does not actually come from real truffles." -- Daniel Patterson

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The list of 'ingredients' is for the aroma, the smell... not for the truffle itself. Most of the chemical make up of truffle do not smell anything but a few more volatile ones can be dispersed in the air creating its characteristic smell. The same is true of wine... which is essentially made of water and ethanol but its smell is composed of many different molecules, which all sound as bad as the list for the black truffle.

I agree that nature is complex and that it can not easily be reduced to a bunch of chemical randomly mixed together. At the same time however, chemists are sometimes able to isolate certain molecules which are exactly the ones we crave for or need. I personally see more value in swallowing an aspirin when i have headaches than chewing on willow branches to get the same chemical compound.

As I said, I understand the point you are trying to make but for someone like me who can't afford truffles but still appreciate their musky smell, truffle oil is good enough... especially as an accent (as opposed to a main component) ... it is not like nature is providing us with many cheaper substitute. I'd be happy to learn about other ingredients providing similar aromas.

That beeing said, homemade and storebought truffle oils are almost all synthetic... which means that the issue here is not between real truffle oil and a fake one... it is about two fake ones.

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As I understand it, the compound 2,4-dithiapentane is the foremost flavor in white truffles. Similar to how vanillin is the dominant flavor in vanilla. Of course there are lots of other flavors, but you can get a lot of mileage out of just using the primary flavor.

So . . . where can we get 2,4-dithiapentane? And once we have it, how do we convert it into fake white truffle oil? I mean, it's interesting to speculate but I'd like to order up some 2,4-dithiapentane, mix it with oil and taste it.

I just found this: http://www.honestjoy.cn/Product/1618-26-4.htm

But sincerely, I would first try the "truffle aroma" in the three links I listed previously.

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Incidentally Daniel (and I fully support the gist of your last posting) --

As to acetone - also known as dimethyl formaldehyde, the main uses are in nail polishy remover and in the preservation of parts of dead bodies - that too is a quite deadly poison

Daniel (before some truffle-oil manufacturer jumps on that assertion), you mean I believe dimethyl ketone (DMK), more modernly 2-propanone. Acetone is one of many alcohol-related light organic species that occur naturally in things like fruit, wine, and spirits. I would not suggest focusing on it but on the larger point that's superbly supported: a few chemicals do not a scent or flavor make. 35 years ago in high school (having fortuitously a former research food chemist teaching organic chemistry) I synthesized the main chemical species of grape and pineapple flavorings in a lab exercises, but they lacked nuance.

Also, this is a good opportunity to remind everyone that words like "poison" and "toxic" are badly and distractingly meaningless (sometimes a reason why they're used) without quantitative and context information. (As in the new flush of writing on absinthe liquors, fashionably characterizing the common plant principle thujone as "toxic" without adding that its lethal dose matches caffeine's which occurs in far higher concentrations in coffee or tea than does thujone in even a thujone-rich absinthe, in which also the alcohol is around 100 times more toxic anyway by the same measure. As an extreme example, even water is toxic if taken in too great a quantity and has actually killed people, including Andy Warhol.)

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Sorry, what I meant was: where can I order a small quantity of 2,4-Dithiapentane from, in the US?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Sorry, what I meant was: where can I order a small quantity of  2,4-Dithiapentane from, in the US?

What! you don't want to buy a full container from China for the same price? :blink:

So far my search for a North American dealer has ben unsuccesful (maybe the third link?)... I will try to contact the producer of the TV show to know about their source.

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So far my search for a North American dealer has ben unsuccesful (maybe the third link?)... I will try to contact the producer of the TV show to know about their source.

They got their extract from: http://www.patiwizz.com/catalogue/arome_de...mpignons_14.php

Which I think was one of the three links I found. They obviously accepted to mail their product to North America (Canada) so I tried to place an order but the shipping alone is 65 Euros!! :shock: ... which is way too much for my wallet.

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I've been pondering a similar thing about wines. I've been fortunate enough to try several "legendary" wines over the years that I can recall the flavors of. Could we take a neutral tasting wine (cheap Bordeaux for instance), centrifuge it to encourage tannins to clump together, and then doctor it up with tiny amounts of volatile compounds to simulate specific rare wines? Perhaps simulating rare wines is a skill that an individual could develop.

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I've been pondering a similar thing about wines. I've been fortunate enough to try several "legendary" wines over the years that I can recall the flavors of. Could we take a neutral tasting wine (cheap Bordeaux for instance), centrifuge it to encourage tannins to clump together, and then doctor it up with tiny amounts of volatile compounds to simulate specific rare wines? Perhaps simulating rare wines is a skill that an individual could develop.

years ago , I ran some white oak thru the jointer and put the shavings in a bottle.I then filled the bottle with vodka, and let it sit for a few months, Then you could take a bit of the flavored vodka and put it in some cheap unaged red and it improved it a lot. It wasnt Latour, but much better than normal cheap unaged red..

Later on, I made some red and after I took it off the must, I put in some of the white oak shavings. Took it out after a couple months, and it was much much better than just sitting in a carboy...Not like what you are proposing but a similar concept.

Bud

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