What is Truffle Oil?
With its intense aroma and rich earthy flavor, the truffle has rightfully become a staple of gourmet cuisine. Like the name suggests, truffle oil is meant to add to the flavor of a dish that already contains truffles or pairs well with fungus, like meat. It’s a modern culinary ingredient, most commonly used as a finishing touch on truffle fries, pasta dishes, and pizza, as well as pureed foods like deviled eggs or mashed potatoes.
Truffles are delicious but they’re expensive. Truffle oil, on the other hand, allows you to get the truffle taste experience without spending a fortune. This is because fats have a strong affinity for the aromatic gases, so when you eat something enhanced with truffle oil, you can get a much stronger taste of the truffles.
As for the shelf life, it depends on the type of truffle oil. It has a delicate nature but oil with truffle flavoring will retain its character for at least several months – as long as you store it properly (in a cool, dry place). When cold, gases go into a semi-liquid state, so to make sure your truffle oil lasts, pop it in the refrigerator.
Truffle Oil Made With Truffles vs. Truffle Flavoring
Traditionally, truffle oil is made by soaking fresh black or white truffles in high-quality olive oil – you can even do this at home! However, truffle oil made this way must be used immediately because the flavor and aroma will dissipate within days. Due to the high price and unavailability of truffles, most truffle oils are actually made of grapeseed or olive oil and truffle flavoring (like TruffleAroma).
It should be noted that even though truffle oil may be without real truffles, there are plenty of high-quality truffle oils with excellent truffle flavor (especially the ones made using TruffleAroma) which can do as great a job at enhancing recipes as the ‘real deal’. Even if the oil itself has never been in direct contact with fresh truffles, the truffle oil can still add the distinct and pleasurable flavor and aroma of fresh truffles to any dish of your choice.
To get results more closely resembling real, organic truffle oil, it’s best to go with an all natural truffle flavor formula.
How to Use Truffle Oil
First, it’s important to know that truffle oil is not for cooking – heat can alter its flavor, so you should only use it as a finishing oil. The gases that provide the rich flavor are very delicate and any exposure to heat can drive them away.
Once your meal is ready, you can add truffle oil to taste – make sure you don’t smother the dish. Rather, drizzle it lightly over the top like a light dressing. There is a slight difference between the taste of white and black truffles but there are no hard and fast rules – go with your gut and personal preferences.
If you’re not sure if the taste of truffle oil is right for you, you can start with a small sampler so you can see for yourself if truffle oil is something you can incorporate in your meals.
When to Use Truffle Oil
A good rule of thumb is as long as the dish pairs with the flavor of truffles, you can also pair it with truffle oil. One way to go about it is by adding truffle oil to your vinaigrette – this will bring out the taste of the ingredients in your salad. Combine it with some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste, and add some cured meats, cheeses or, if you can afford it, real truffles.
You can drizzle some truffle oil over cooked vegetables instead of butter or oil – it enhances the flavor of starches like potatoes and greens like asparagus. One of the most widely spread uses of truffle oil is drizzling it over mashed potatoes, pasta, polenta or risotto – you can use both black and white truffle oil.
You can also use truffle oil to make your pizza night a bit fancier. It makes for a wonderful addition to pizza crust, but try to pair it with white-based pizza rather than pizza with tomato sauce – it can overshadow the delicate truffle flavor.
Truffle oil also goes great with eggs, whether drizzled over them or in a cheese omelet. Fresh truffles are often used with eggs, but truffle oil flavor agents are a great and inexpensive way to enjoy the classic pairing.
If you want a taste of the traditional Italian cuisine, consider pairing pasta dishes with white truffles. Cheeses such as buffalo ricotta or stracchino go exceptionally well with white truffle oil. If you’re a fan of the black truffle oil taste, pair with duck breast, mushrooms, and aromatic brandy sauce – a dish with a smooth and luxurious taste, inspired by the 1960s Spanish cuisine.