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Dec 9, 2006 03:46 PM

Making truffle oil and other trufflish R&D

We got a batch of wonderful fresh white truffles, and are about to do a bit of R&D at home.
For starters, truffle oil.
Tradition dictates the use of olive oil. We're thinking a less-flavorful oil (corn, perhaps?) will bring forward more of the truffle component.
We'll also play a little with taboos, such as: freezing them.
Any other suggestions?

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  1. My initial reaction to the corn oil is NOOOO!! The oil will lose its 'truffley-ness' over time, and its nice to be left with a nice olive oil rather than a blah corn oil. And, if you are going to experiment with a flavorless oil, I think I'd use canola or maybe safflower.

    I certainly hope you plan on eating some of them freshly shaven over some fantastic dish...

    1 Reply
    1. re: malarkey

      As far as eating them fresh, we're very orthodox: just plain pasta, polenta or eggs, shave on top. Bliss. And needless to say, a good Barolo (although yesterday, a low profile 2000 Monthelie stood up to the task).

    2. I don't think it's possible to make good truffle oil at home, if it were the Piemontesi would have a tradition of doing so. Truffle oil is only about 20 years old and I believe manufacturing it takes expensive equipment.

      When I was a production assistant on a documentary film crew we visited a tartufaio who kept his stock in a deep freezer. He wrapped the truffles individually and then put them in Ziploc-type bags.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        This recipe sounds easy enough, we'll try it (and report back, if results are worth to...)

        You can make your own truffle oil by storing pieces of fresh truffle in clean, sweet, mild tasting oil. The more finely chopped the truffle is, the more of its essence it will give up into the oil and the less flavor the pieces themselves will retain. Make sure all liquid is drained off from the truffles before adding them to the oil; reserve the liquid for later use. Any kind of truffle may be used to make truffle oil. Light olive oil and grapeseed oil are good, neutral flavored oils.

        Store truffle oil in a cool, dark place away from heat, light and oxygen. Some methods of excluding oxygen include sealing wax or plastic wrap on the surface of the oil as well as nitrogen gas dispensers, sold commercially for wine enthusiasts under the name Private Preserve.

        Truffle oil that is kept very cold in your refrigerator will whiten and solidify, but this is not necessarily harmful to the flavor. Truffle oil is tolerant of cold, and can even be frozen, but like fine wine it is less tolerant of temperature fluctuations and may lose quality if it is allowed to solidify and liquefy repeatedly. Remove from cold storage only the amount you intend to immediately use, and leave the rest at temperature.

        1. re: RicRios

          Given the insanely high price of fresh white Alba truffles (tuber magnatum Pico), the relatively low price of good commercial truffle oil, and the much less intense aroma of homemade truffle oil, that doesn't make sense to me.

          If you're talking about tuber gibbosum or some other inferior cheap truffle, that's another story.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Magnatum Pico. Commercial truffle oil is 99% artificial flavoring agents, 1% truffle, best case scenario. That's precisely why it's so cheap.

            1. re: RicRios

              There are no artificial ingredients in Urbani white truffle oil, which at $4-5 an ounce is cheap only compared with fresh Alba truffles.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I'm holding in my hands a bottle of White Truffle Oil from Savini Tartufi (Forcoli, Pisa, Italy). The label reads "Ingredients: Olive Oil, White Truffle aroma (Tuber magnatum Pico)". I met in Parma a member of the Savini family. He acknowledged the use of artificial agents. Please note the word "aroma" in the description above. In fact, he mentioned they are about to release a "Deluxe" version of their truffle line, deluxe referring to the fact that they'll use a higher percentage of truffle in the mix, but still with a strong chemical component. I agree this is Savini, not Urbani, but I bet you 2 cts the story is exactly the same.

                1. re: RicRios

                  I've spent a couple grand on fresh white truffles over the years, and once spent a week in Barolo during truffle season. If Urbani's cheating, they're doing a good enough job to fool me.

                  I can't say the same about most of the cheaper truffle oils I've tried.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Federico Balestra at Sabatino Tartufi that its oil is now “100 percent organic,” made from dried truffles and other ingredients with flavors “similar to truffle.” Vittorio Giordano of Urbani Tartufi called its manufacturing method, though conducted in a laboratory, a “natural process.” He described the essence that his company uses as “something from the truffle that is not the truffle.”


        2. I'd think you'd run the risk of botulism just as you do with other fresh thing stored in oil. Particularly because of truffle's contact with soil.

          1 Reply
          1. Recently, I got a gift from one of my purveyors... three black truffles, about 1/2 ounce each.... I gave them the once over with a magnifying glass and verified that they are italians, not chinese... my sous chefs were very excited to see these and immediately began to debate what to do with them... I suggested we make 2 gallons of infused oil out of them. This sparked another debate about the best way to make the oil... After many ideas, we decided to try out three methods:

            1) our production cook had the most obvious and apparently successful idea. We simply shaved the truffle very thin and immersed it in a pure olive oil and raised the temperature to 210 degrees and held it for 5 minutes, then let it stand for 10, then poured it off into bottles. This is the same method that we use for making our "herb" infused oils. It produced a very clean and clear truffle taste and a strong aroma. How it holds up is another question, but we'll find out....

            2) we pureed a the truffle in a very small amount of oil with an immersion blender, then added this to a half gallon of cold oil, plugged the bottle and evacuated the air with a "wine" sealing pump... we'll stick it on a shelf for a week and see what happens...

            3) the final method was the simplest.. we split the truffle in half, dropped into a bottle of oil, capped it, shook it like crazy and then stuck it on the shelf... we'll try that one in a week, too and report the results....

            The first method seems to work very well, I would just think its important to control the temperature and not allow the slices to "fry"... just to release their "essence" (oil)...

            hope this helps, and I'll post the results of our experiments next week.

            4 Replies
            1. re: crispychef

              How do you recognize chinese vs italian?

              1. re: RicRios

                Only the Chinese truffles have "Ah-so"s

              2. re: crispychef

                Dear crispychef,
                I am a truffle farmer in North Carolina ( and want to make my own truffle oil. Can't wait to hear how your experimentation worked out. I ;have heard that it is now impossible to import truffle oil due to FDA since all the Chinese imports found to be poisonous. Thanks for your help.

              3. Any word on the results of your experiment?

                8 Replies
                    1. re: RicRios

                      Thanks. Sounds as if freezing in butter is the way to go, but I was hoping there was a way to make truffle oil.

                      1. re: happy_macomb

                        I only kept the butter in the fridge (40 F?), not sure how butter fares at lower temps. If you read crispychef's suggestion # 1 above, that's pretty much the same procedure, with oil instead of butter, that is: chop the truffle, heat the fat, mix, save. I'll surely try it next season. BTW, difference btw natural home made product and commercial stuff w/chemical flavors is -as was expected- abysmal. Not sure though if the natural way is commercially viable. Cost of 1 oz white truffles is U$S 100 wholesale ($1,600 / lb), which means the COST of a 10 oz jar of truffle butter as in my experiment whould be around $200. That would mean... $400 retail? No way. Only doable, I assume, for restaurant use.

                        1. re: RicRios

                          As noted above, Urbani makes excellent natural truffle oil. It costs around $5 an ounce.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            What is going on with Urbani? Based on other suggestions, I ordered some of their truffle oil from Amazon. But their own web site doesn't allow you to order truffle oil, for some reason, and I can't get through to them on the email address they provide. Are they going out of business?

                          2. re: RicRios

                            Just FYI, butter freezes perfectly; we do it all the time. Works great for basil butter, for example, which is wonderful on steak.

                            1. re: happy_macomb

                              just be sure you do it in a freezer where it won't pick up "off" flavors
                              I had a few Xmas cookies this year where it was easy to taste that the butter had been sitting in the baker's freezer for awhile...discreet enquiries confirmed this...

                              but I love compound butters, and if anyone ever gives me excess truffles that's how I'm doing it!