What Is Truffle Oil, Actually?

Not long ago, it would raise some eyebrows if you opted for a bag of truffle potato chips with your sandwich, but nowadays I see kids munching bags of them on the playground (and not even especially fancy kids, either! Not a monocle in sight!). But truffle flavor isn’t limited to potato chips. Thanks to truffle oil, you can add that earthy umami flavor to anything—especially now that you can buy it in practically any grocery store. Let’s find out a little bit more about this miracle oil.

What is truffle oil made of? Is truffle oil made from truffles?

Truffle oil is made by infusing olive oil with either real black or white truffles or, more commonly, artificial truffle flavoring. Most often, a compound with the catchy name of 2,4-dithiapentane is the usual suspect. If you don’t instantly blanch at the price of a bottle of truffle oil, it’s probably made from synthetic truffle flavoring. 

How is truffle oil made? 

If you’re buying the expensive stuff, then that truffle oil was made by infusing good olive oil with truffle residue or trimmings. If you’re buying the more affordable stuff, it was made by simply adding manufactured aromatic compounds  to an oil base. 

What does truffle oil taste like?

Truffle oil can best be described as earthy and vaguely mushroomy. Truffle oil made with synthetic truffle flavoring is often critiqued as being overly powerful. That’s because the truffle flavoring compound is difficult to digest, so it can linger on the tastebuds for quite a while. 

How to use truffle oil?

If you like the flavor of truffle oil, there’s really no wrong way to use it! Well, actually, scratch that…you wouldn’t want to use it as a moisturizer or car engine lubricant. But, when it comes to culinary uses, you’re on easy street. Drizzle it on pasta, popcorn, pizza, in salad dressing, and definitely on french fries (or any type of potatoes, really). 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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