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Teppy

Making real truffle butter

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I've noticed that (winter) black truffles have a much stronger taste when cooked. To maximize their flavor, I'm planning to make truffle butter like this:

 

4 parts clarified butter by weight

1 part black truffles by weight

Chop truffles in a food processor. Combine truffles and butter, vacuum seal, sous vide at 80C for one hour, freeze.

 

So my questions for those that have experimented with truffles:

 

Am I using too high a ratio of truffles to butter? (Does the flavor tend to saturate so that I'm wasting truffles?)

Is 80C warm enough? Too warm?

Is an hour enough time to extract the flavor? Too much time?

Will the brief exposure to vacuum evaporate lots of the volatile truffle flavors?

Does freezing the result degrade the flavor in any way?

 

It's very hard to find this sort of info online or in any cookbook that I've come across.

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Well, I did it as above. I definitely get a nice truffle flavor, but even at 20% truffles it's not super intense. I wonder if I'm so used to chemical truffle oil that the real thing just isn't so impressive.

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Truffles are a lot like diamonds.  Not common in nature but appealing, so expensive.  And cartels have got a hold on mass supply.  People have figured out how to make the appealing part for less than the cartels like to get paid for the natural option, so they convince people that the manufactured alternative is bad, and only the expensive natural option is worth considering.  If you can't get hold of enough or high enough quality naturals, then looking at the man-mades is only rational... and if you like them, there's no shame in using them.  So chuck a drop or two of good truffle oil in there if you like it.

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Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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On 1/31/2019 at 2:52 PM, Teppy said:

Well, I did it as above. I definitely get a nice truffle flavor, but even at 20% truffles it's not super intense. I wonder if I'm so used to chemical truffle oil that the real thing just isn't so impressive.


Honestly, that's probably the case, at least partially.

Personally, I can't stand 2,4-dithiapentane - even the smell of it bothers me to the point where I find it difficult to eat my own meal if the table next to mine orders "truffle fries" or whatever. I haven't intentionally touched the stuff to my tongue in well over a decade. But if someone likes it, to each their own.

The other problems, aside from palate acclimation, are two: First, heating it up doesn't concentrate the flavor/aroma, it dissipates it faster. In the moment it's warmed, and for a few minutes, it's much more intense because you're activating all those volatiles, but that moment is fleeting. Shave some fresh truffles on still-warm buttered pasta. Take a big whiff and a bite for reference. Then let it sit there and come back in an hour. Not gonna be so impressive.

Second, most of the aromatic volatiles just aren't soluble in fat. You can't actually "infuse" those molecules into oil, butter, etc - they're not going to bond with the fats, though some will get "trapped" between them.

The combination of the two factors - the heating and the insolubility - is working against your hoped-for result. And more than you'd realize is probably escaping right through the plastic. Those molecules are small, some will permeate water-tight materials. Depending what mil bags you're using (Foodsaver-style or chamber vacuum? Just curious) I would wager you had some at least mildly truffley water in the bath for a bit.

If determined to make a butter for long-term storage, though, I'd say just shave it into room temp butter like you would any compound butter, and seal it in the thickest bags you can get. Then check it in a month - slice it onto a steak, mount a sauce with it a la minute, whatever - let the heat in the moment do its thing. 

There have been some inroads made to preserving the aroma & taste, but nothing perfect. Alcohol appears to be the best method - any neutral spirit, the higher the proof the better, but you want at least 100+ proof. Then you can add a splash to sauces later (or better, just put it in cocktails...) - I did a bottle a couple years ago of Perigords in an unaged Armagnac (so... not neutral, I just thought they'd go well together) which was very nice, but in the end better for straight sippin' than cooking with. The moment you cook with it, a lot of it evaporates along with the booze. (That said, all the supposed "truffle vodkas" on the market contain dithiapentane, so hard pass on those...)
 

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Why clarified butter?  I think whole butter with all the milk solids has fuller flavor.

 

And was it salted or unsalted?  If unsalted, it might just need a pinch of salt as flavor enhancer.

 

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