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The Trouble with Truffles...

The fungus kind, not the chocolate kind. The first problem with them is they're so damned expensive, AND so damned addictive! I LOVE them! I cannot afford them! But maybe the rules of horseshoes can work in the world of food? Let's shoot for "close."

Canned truffles are a big problem. The very act of preserving them with heat greatly diminishes their flavor and aroma. Bummer. Fresh truffles are seasonal, not to mention pricey, and shipping can be "iffy." So that leaves truffle salts and truffle oils. And I didn't know a thing about either when I started down this path. I did read all I could lay my eyes on, but that's not the same as trying things out first hand. So I set about giving them both a shot.

Truffle oils are a little scary, depending on who and what you read. Some say, ooh, they're made with the "essence" of truffles, and not "real" truffles. Well, for the life of me, I can't figure out what that means. To me, the "essence" of something is a concentration of all that is good about it, so what could be wrong with essence of truffle? Darned if I know! For me, the greater problem comes with the type of oil that is infused with the truffle essence or flavor. I don't think a highly flavorful olive oil makes a whole lot of sense. So a neutral oil is probably the best choice, I would think. After lots and lots of reading, I went with an oil from Truffle Hunter, in the UK. It's a family run business, and they write like they know what they're talking about. I bought 100ml of their English Truffle Oil. Hey, they don't offer any French Perigord truffle oil, so there wasn't a lot of wiggle room. I considered a couple of other truffle oils, but a bad review or two on amazon.com pushed me this direction. I'll get back to this later.

Truffle salt is fairly straight forward. Small bits of truffle are mixed in with salt and the aroma and flavor bloom. I wish I could find a source to buy the small bits of dried truffle they put in the salt because logic says that would give me a way to concentrate more truffle flavor without adding more salt, but alas, I haven't found a source. So based on that, it is obvious that using a less salty salt is the better way to fly. So far, I have bought three different truffle salts. One was from WorldSpice, a spice source I am extremely fond of and the source for most of my spice needs, but they dropped the ball on this one. Seriously! The salt is way too salty. Fine table salt. And the truffles are way too un-truffley. I tasted it and gave it away, with instructions that if the friend doesn't like it, toss it! The other two truffle salts I've bought are Fusion brand truffled sea salt, and Dalla Terra, They are both products of Italy (French truffle salt is extremely difficult to find for some reason), and the Fusion only says "black truffle," while the Dalla Terra says "black summer truffle." The general consensus is that winter truffles are far superior to summer truffles, but once again, if they're available on the market, I couldn't find them!

So now to my point. My personal opinion is that truffle oil is not worth bothering with. I might give it one more shot with another brand, but I am not at all impressed with my experience so far. The flavor is easily lost, as is the case with many "finishing oils" in my experience. They tend to be easily washed away or overcome by other ingredients, so I'm not holding a lot of hope of finding any truffle magic in that direction.

Truffle salt is another matter. In my experience they are superior to bottled or jarred truffles simply because they retain and give off more of the truffle "vitality" that is so lacking in canned truffles. Of the two brands I have used, both are good, but the Dalla Terra is the best of the two. And that was a bit of a surprise because upon opening the jar and examining it, the salt grains were much finer than the Fusion salt, and I assumed it would mean it would be saltier and less "truffley." Boy, was I wrong! It is pungent, and it will let you know that truffles are present! Or at the very least, the spirit of truffles. I have found that adding it to a simple button mushroom duxelle really expands the illusion of rich full truffle experience. Hey, a few lies from the kitchen never hurt anyone! Well, let's just call them "illusions," not lies. Okay?

And just for the record, I also found out a bit more about my personal preferences for steak while investigating truffle oil versus truffle salt. I sous vied a couple of tenderloins at 56C for around 4 hours, then used a torch to char one and seared the other in a cast iron pan. Somehow, I had never gotten around to testing those two methods of finishing a sous vide steak side by side for comparison before now. What I learned was that, in my experience, the pan searing toughened the steak while the torch searing left it nice and tender, plus it adds more flavor than the cast iron pan could come up with. I used truffle oil on parts of each steak, and truffle salt on the others. Truffle salt rules!

With the possible exceptions of strawberries and other fresh fruits, I can't think of much that a little truffle salt won't make better. I just can't make up my mind if I want to try it on strawberries.... hmmm.... Probably not. But hey, for a fried egg sandwich that makes your taste buds dance, try frying the egg in rendered beef fat, then sprinkling it with a dash of truffle salt, put it on some thick sliced sour dough bread with a light touch of aioli and you've got lunch..! It's really nice to know I can enjoy the rich aromatic experience of truffles any time I like, and no longer have to wait for fancy holiday dinners. Not only that, now I get better truffle flavor than I ever got from jars of imported and expensive truffles. Life is good! '-)

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  1. I use truffle oil and truffle salt (sometimes together). It is much harder to find nice truffle oil and I discovered I prefer Black Truffle oil and white truffle salt.

    You might also check out truffle cheese. It is my new favorite thing on pizza. It melts like a dream and when using mushrooms and truffle cheese together on a pizza or omelette.....mmmmm......

    3 Replies
    1. re: sedimental

      Oooooh... Truffle cheese. Now you've done it! Thanks. I've never tried white truffles. I'll pick some up.

      1. re: Caroline1

        I've enjoyed reading your posts over the years, and so I'd like to offer some advice about white truffles: don't buy any until the season begins (usually October)-- they mainly come from Piedmont and have become extremely expensive so buying them now, when the freshness is doubtful is not worth the money. (And ignore the store that claims it's rested on rice all these months and is "fresh"--that rice business is a myth and actually draws moisture out of the truffle.)

        1. re: penthouse pup

          Thanks! I'll put the white truffle money in the airfare-to-Italy kitty! '-)

    2. "Truffle oils are a little scary, depending on who and what you read. Some say, ooh, they're made with the "essence" of truffles, and not "real" truffles. Well, for the life of me, I can't figure out what that means. To me, the "essence" of something is a concentration of all that is good about it, so what could be wrong with essence of truffle? Darned if I know!"

      By "essence of truffle" they mean someone in a lab put a bunch of chemicals together to try to mimic the flavor and aroma of truffles. Most truffle oilsdont contain anything related to a truffle, and the ones that do use real truffles in the bottle just do it for show as the compounds are not fat soluble and therefore dont actually add anything to the oil.

      So, in a nutshell, truffle oil is really pretty much just synthetically perfumed oil.

      7 Replies
      1. re: twyst

        Yes, but I have no problem with synthetics * IF* they accurately duplicate the original AND do me no harm from consuming them. '-)

        1. re: twyst

          After much study and consulting with European professionals (in the business for several generations), I have accepted the fact that ALL truffle oil on the market is flavored stuff. Maybe some of it has little pieces of truffle in it but, it is not the REAL THING by any means. The FDA only requires that a food item not be toxic in order to be labeled "Natural." Some chefs really do make their own and it has a very short shelf life.

          1. re: keepyourfork

            I wasted a chunk of change on truffle oil to confirm that. It has been demoted to display only. I've also learned that while really good truffle salt comes closest to giving the sensation of real live truffles, once opened it loses its potency rather quickly. Rats!!!

            1. re: Caroline1

              **I have not tried this**
              Your comment about the open salt makes me think the issue may be oxidation. My dad had some cans of nitrogen for spraying into wine bottles before recorking. The idea was that the nitrogen would displace the air and keep the wine better -- similar to blowing into a paint can before re-lidding. Might this work with the salt? Spray some of the wine-keeper in and then lid quickly?

              1. re: travelerjjm

                With wine, it's reasonable to think it would only need to be preserved/protected once before the bottle is empty. I'd hate to try to cusume four ounces of truffle salt in two sittings! But seriously, as often as I use truffle salt, that could get to be more of a deterrant to using it than anything else. I think a better answer might be to transfer some to a small saltshaker, then hermetically seal the rest and store it in the freezer right next to my stash of saffron! Or I could just buy smaller containers... '-)

              2. re: Caroline1

                that's just what i was going to comment- short shelf life of truffle salt.

                a few comments. I'm in the Boston area. A French restnt here, Aquitaine, serves their steak frites w/ a KILLER truffle vngtte (i have the recipe if you want it.) and they use 'white truffle oil, canned tr peelings, canned tr juice ' for the tr elements of it. I haven't tried yet to ask the sizes of those, or vendors, but i know they're wicked expensive.

                In CA there is a good co. called Far West Funghi. The owner and his son are good peo to talk to/learn from. In their store at the Ferry Bldg. they sell many many truffle (and other funghi products as well as fresh and dried funghi.) I am a major fan of their house-made Truffle Honey Mustard which is misnamed imo; it tastes like a v good quality dijon, w/ truffle flavor. Looooong shelf lfe, as you might imagine. (Yes, they ship.) Inexp compared to other products. They also sell truffle flour, just fyi. Also jarred truffles.

                Here in Cambridge, the owner of our fantastic specialty foods store, Formaggio, is a very helpful and well informed food person. They sell many truffle oils and Ishan would have opinions on them for you. I'd advise callng any retail people in off-hours like early or after lunch.

                Thx for sharing all your info.

                p.s. Whole Foods and TrJ and Formaggio Kitchen all sell various truffle cheeses. As you might think, TrJ is the least exp. All tend to develop (flavorless) mold , which I think is truffle/funghi/duh! related.

            2. re: twyst

              Not true at all. Truffle essence is extracted from broken truffle pieces that can't be preserved the same way as whole truffles. The essence is soluble in alcohol or oil. Hence, truffle oil! No one in their right mind would flavour oil with whole grated truffles. If you want to get legal, this is called 'natural flavouring'.

              'Someone in a lab' would be making artificial flavouring, which means it's never even seen a truffle.

              Now, I can't vouch for North American made truffle oil since their labelling standards are so low. That's part of the problem with American mentality - they would rather sacrifice quality for a cheaper product. Stick with French or Italian truffle products. In general, they won't put up with s*&t!

            3. shall I post you a bag of truffle potato chips?

              (actually, I wouldn't subject you to them...there are actually truffles in the ingredients list, but they're pretty funky and weird-tasting)

              8 Replies
              1. re: sunshine842

                mmmm... Somehow I suspect truffle seasoned beef jerky would be a lot more palate pleasing than truffle dusted potato chips, but then I readily admit to being a stodgy old traditionalist. '-)

                1. re: Caroline1

                  of course, I wouldn't eat beef jerky unless it was pretty much my last chance....

                  Truffles and fried potatoes isn't an odd concept, so I tried them...they skimped on the truffles just enough to leave them tasting musty, rather than truffly...but they've been on the shelf for a few years now, so I guess someone must like them.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Just sayin'... I don't recall ever seeing truffled jerky. On the other hand, I don't recall giving beef jerky a second glance in about... oh... at least thirty plus years. Tough stuff! So maybe they do make it?

                    I suspect I've become rather stodgy: I strongly prefer fresh Perigord black winter truffles, and I strongly prefer them with classic prime beef recipes like Wellington or Rossinni. If I wanted to get creative, I MIGHT try creating an escarot dish served in the shell with truffle butter and cognac. I'd rather smother my mac'n'cheese in butter and double or triple cream than truffles. Stodgy traditionalist!!! If only my pocket book had kept up with my tastes... <sigh>

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      I'm hoping (but really don't have a lot of hope) that this has been a good year down in the sudouest, and truffles will be cheap this year.

                      The reality, however, is that after a very cool and wet spring, they had a very hot and dry summer...not very conducive to truffles.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Truffles will never be cheap. Too much working and waiting on them. We'll see if Moth.er Nature responds favorably this year.

                        1. re: keepyourfork

                          "Cheap" is relative...and I meant "cheap in comparison to other years"

                          I've bought and eaten a few too many truffles to consider them cheap compared to other items in the basket.

                      2. re: Caroline1

                        I had an escargot-stuffed tortelloni with truffle foam somewhere that was absolutely amazing. Foam irritates me but this dish was incredible.

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          ohhhhhh, what you're doing to me! I have escargot in the cupboard and a jar of truffles in the spice rack.... ohhhhhhh.... I think I'm in trouble! '-)

                2. l was told by a French truffle seller that while the summer truffles look good, they have little aroma or flavor, thus buy the winter ones.
                  l have found over the years that the Italian white truffles have far more smell and taste than the French.
                  In addition, Manni is one of the few makers using real truffles anymore in their oil. Most companies sell a product of 250ml for $18-$40 which has a chemical truffle 'replacer' as do most perfumes now. The perfume makers put a discovered chemical that smells like lavender, iris blossoms, or whatever as it is more dependable and far less expensive.

                  1. Have you considered a trip to Oregon during truffle season? There are some people up there experimenting with producing truffles - maybe someone on the Portland board can give you some info about where they are and which farmers' markets they show up at. (And it's a nice place to visit anyway). I don't know how well truffles dry - it's pretty easy to dry most other mushrooms, so maybe you can get some dried ones from an Oregon producer.

                    The mushroom people at my local farmers' market in the Bay Area once had truffles that they said came from the very north of California: they smelled divine, and I'm still kicking myself for not buying one, pricy as it was. I don't know why we can't get them to grow in this state - there's no shortage of oaks!

                    1. Our house in Croatia is smack dab in the middle of truffle hunting territory. Each time we go we are fortunate to have winter (white) truffles fresh. We've also truffle hunted and bought truffles to take to olive groves where we had them stored in freshly-pressed oil. We have met truffle hunters who say that Italians purchase their truffles and pass them off as Italian. We've had truffles many times and I can honestly say those in Croatia are the most flavourful I have ever had. They are highly aromatic and taste heavenly.

                      Unfortunately those packed in oil are short lived but so very worth it.

                      1. How do you feel about truffles preserved in alcohol? Long shelf life (?), no heat processing.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DeppityDawg

                          I've seen it done with vodka. Just not sure how long it would keep. What I saw.was in the freezer.

                        2. I have on a couple of occasions come across truffle butter in two "fancier" grocers. When it comes to truffle flavor in a lipid, I thought it greatly superior to any truffle oil I have ever tried. As to specific applications, we loved the ribeye I topped with an oversized chunk of it, as well as the garlic bagels we had the next morning. In gluttonous honesty, however, a spoon was probably all that would have been necessary.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: MGZ

                            Yes! In my experience, a really good truffle butter is far superior to a really good truffle oil. Great observation!

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Agreed. I bought some at Whole Foods recently--it was $10 for a small plastic container (2 oz?). When I opened it I thought I smelled truffle oil and I thought, oh, great, I just wasted money. But it doesn't taste like truffle oil. It's quite subtle. It isn't as good as having real truffle, but I like it enough to buy again.

                            2. re: MGZ

                              geeez, how could i forget that? YES! WF has carried an exc one. Wonderful on steak and, maybe surprising, maybe not>> Salmon!

                              1. re: MGZ

                                I agree. It's also heavenly on scrambled eggs.

                              2. I buy a tiny white truffle every year, mince it and dehydrate. Store it in the freezer for many uses. If you're making truffle salt, no need to dehydrate, just mince the thing up and pack in sea salt. A little goes a very long way, so you might ant to enlist friends to defray the cost.

                                15 Replies
                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  Brilliant! Way ahead of the curve. A question for you: Have you ever tried freezing a truffle, then using a fine microplane grater to produce fresh "truffle dust" as you need it? I've been using this method for fresh ginger for several years now, and in that application it just cuts through all of the normal fibrous hassles that come with fresh ginger, as well as whether to peel it, and makes them all moot by producing a finely "minced" ginger with all of its lovely [frozen] juices still intact. I suspect it would work with truffles as well! Next problem for me, where the hell am I going to find a fresh truffle in north Texas? Oh! I know! The web! '-)

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Yes, frozen truffles are great for lots of applications. Their consistency when thawed is quite different from fresh, but flavor and aroma remain.

                                    1. re: keepyourfork

                                      Thanks! When brought up to room temperature, there are a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables that have a texture very similar to overcooked foods brought down to room temperature. Strange, isn't it? Which is not to say I expect frozen truffles to be mushy, but I wouldn't think they're the same as fresh. Now, if only they were cheap! '-)

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Frozen truffles are sort of like other fungi/mushrooms when they thaw. You'll like the way they retain their flavor though if they've been quick frozen when at their peak. Enjoy!!

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            Has no one had my problem? I bought a fresh white truffle at Fairways (Broadway NY) in season and it had no taste whatever. I checked with friends in the know (but not experts) and they said flavorless truffles are a common problem.
                                            Oh yes, last year, in Paris, French friends cooked us a meal that included white truffles they'd found in their garden, and these truffles had no flavor either.

                                            1. re: Fuffy

                                              Not all truffles are created equal. Oregon white truffles don't have much flavor.

                                              1. re: keepyourfork

                                                They have very little flavour compared to those found in Europe. They bear very little resemblance.

                                                1. re: keepyourfork

                                                  Thanks but I bought (and ate) my Fairways truffle years ago, and it was imported - French or Italian (not American).

                                                2. re: Fuffy

                                                  I live in San Francisco and two years in a row (yes, we were stupid) we purchased a truffle from Monterey Market in the East Bay, and both times they had no flavor or SMELL whatsoever. totally blame ourselves. plus, they were not that expensive! $20 top. they were definitely truffles, tho small, but i don't know from where.

                                                  then, my BF's boss bought himself 2 white italian truffles for the price of $278 (it was on the container)from The Pasta Shop, and then let them sit in his fridge for 10 days past the sell-by date, at which point he gave them to us. they still smelled wonderful, and were stored with two eggs that also smelled wonderful. but they had no flavor whatsoever. such a waste. (ETA: and i just read Robert's post below about the Italian whites not having much flavor but smelling wonderful - so maybe that was the problem!)

                                                  and i am one whO has no problem with truffle oil. Trader Joe's actually used to sell a decent one. I also love truffle salt and truffle butter.

                                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                                    $20 would be an Oregon truffle. Monterey Market has sold those. They can be nice if very fresh.

                                                    Tuber magnatum Pico has virtually no taste, only aroma. They should always be used as soon as possible.

                                                    I like "truffle oil" made with laboratory aromas. I just won't pay a high price for it.

                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                      Flavorless truffles once again. The other night in a Tribeca NY restaurant I had white truffle risotto with a lot of truffle shaved all over it but it was tasteless. I really wonder how common this is? Has anyone found a reliable source of white truffles with taste?

                                                      1. re: Fuffy

                                                        Generally if white from Alba not Croatia at this time of year, only thing that will screw up the process is the time since harvest.
                                                        When l used to sell them and they were out of the ground for 2 weeks, or 10 days from our supplier we gave them away as they were dead.

                                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                          Ah at last the answer. Thank you deluccacheesemonger! Now I know I am not mad. So the (difficult) trick is to find a truly honest and reliable source for truffles from Alba in season.

                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                            Wonderful D.C.restnt, Kinkead's , has a signature salad and they shave frozen truffle over the top. iirc, yummyyyy.

                                            uh, NOT. bad memory. It was frozen foie gras.

                                        1. Truffles 101:

                                          Precious truffles:

                                          black / Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum): found primarily in France (Provence, Périgord), Spain, and Italy, season runs from December to March. The flavor and aroma are both subtle. They are used both raw and cooked, and can be canned. Famous recipes include oeufs brouillés à la truffe and strangozzi al tartufo. In 2012, mail-order prices were around $100 an ounce. Sources: dartagnan.com, plantin-truffle.com, sabatinostore.com, urbani.com

                                          white / Alba truffle (Tuber magnatum Pico): found in Italy, primarily in Piemonte and Umbria, and the season runs from October to January. They have little flavor but a very intense aroma and are always used raw, shaved thinly using a special truffle grater over such dishes as tajarin, risotto, fondue, and veal milanese. The truffle hunter I went hunting with in Piemonte preserved them successfully by wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, putting them in zipper bags, and keeping them in a deep freeze. In 2012, mail-order prices were around $250 an ounce. Sources: dartagnan.com, plantin-truffle.com, sabatinostore.com, urbani.com

                                          The second tier:

                                          Summer truffle / black summer truffle / English truffle (Tuber aestivum): found many places in Europe. Flavor something like the Périgord truffles, but milder, and handled similarly. Sources: dartagnan.com, plantin-truffle.com, urbani.com

                                          Burgundy truffle (Tuber uncinatum): Despite the name, most of them come from Italy. The flavor is delicate and a bit nutty. To my knowledge these are used only shaved raw, but there's a whole cookbook devoted to them, Martine Sbolgi-Guinet's "Au plaisir de la Truffe" (Communication Presse Edition, 2008) so maybe there are other possibilities. Sources: dartagnan.com, plantin-truffle.com, urbani.com

                                          Bianchetto ("whiteish") truffle (Tuber albidum): found in Italy. A much milder cousin of the Alba truffle. Sources: urbani.com

                                          Lesser varieties:

                                          Leucangium carthusianum: Oregon black truffle

                                          Tuber borchii: white summer truffle

                                          Tuber brumale: moscato / musky truffle

                                          Tuber indicum: Found in China, no flavor or aroma but looks almost exactly like Tuber magnatum and has reportedly been passed off as such by unscrupulous vendors.

                                          Tuber macrosporum: smooth black truffle

                                          Tuber mesentericum: Bangoli / Irpino / Tuscany truffle

                                          Tuber oregonense / gibbosum: Oregon white truffle

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Thanks! A nice primer. If only my supermarket... <sigh> Oh, well. Maybe I just need to move to France? '-)

                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              unfortunately, they're not cheap or particularly easy to find here, either! They're cheapER and easiER to find -- but it's still a splash-out and a bit of a search.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                Yes, I've seen pictures of baskets of fresh truffles from vendors (street and shop) in Paris, and I wasn't stricken by what a bargain they were. BUT....! At least when you live in France, you can get a pet dog or pet pig and go strolling through the woods in hopes of a "Take-Some-Home-Free" card. All of the truffles I know of in the U.S. are in privately owned forests and groves. Life is a game of Monopoly. You just have to be choosy about which board you play on!

                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  ooh, not unless you have a particular fondness for a buttload of birdshot.

                                                  Nobody gives up the secrets of where their truffle grounds are -- and the dogs and pigs have to be specially trained.

                                                  The only truffles my hound manages to spend any time sniffing are those left behind by other dogs (and I don't mean fungus)

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    Amateurs are unlikely to find melanosporum, and most truffles are found on private property in France, too.

                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      Whenever we go truffle hunting in Europe, we are taken at night and blindfolded. Well, except for once when we went during the afternoon. It was very lucrative, secretive and mysterious in a way. No one dares to intrude upon another's truffle territory - it just isn't done by professionals. No one I've spoken with (and that is a lot of truffle hunters) hunt with pigs but with dogs (in response to above).

                                                      1. re: chefathome

                                                        Reportedly the problem with pigs is that they eat too many of the truffles.

                                            2. We have a jar of black summer truffles (20 g). How should I store them once opened and how long will they last?

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: sillysully

                                                I wouldn't try to make two dishes with only 20 grams of Tuber aestivum.

                                                  1. re: chefathome

                                                    One dish only? There are 4, but they are small. They are jarred, so neither, I guess.

                                                    1. re: sillysully

                                                      But are they preserved or is it just the truffles? Are the truffles wet or dry?

                                                      Perhaps either a pasta dish or an egg dish (i.e. softly scrambled). Pasta and eggs really highlight the flavour of truffles. Twenty grams, sadly, are not a lot as they are not as flavourful as the white winter truffles that you shave over dishes. Black truffles can be cooked; white definitely should not be cooked.

                                                      1. re: sillysully

                                                        Truffles in a jar are canned. Oeufs brouillés à la truffe (scrambled eggs with butter and cream cooked in a bain-marie) is a great dish for making a small quantity of black truffles go as far as possible.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          That is the very dish I had in mind. It is absolute perfection.

                                                          Yes, it does sound as though these truffles are preserved, doesn't it?

                                                  2. Truffle butter is a delicious alternative. Try that on your pasta or scrambled eggs!

                                                    10 Replies
                                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                                      Truffle butter's made with the same synthetic aromas truffle oils are. They may put a few specks of the real thing in the bottle so they can list it among the ingredients.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        I don't think that is true of all truffle butters. I am quite certain that I purchased a truffle butter from DiBruno's in Philadelphia primarily because the only ingredients were cream, truffles, and salt. It was certainly pricey - though, well worth it. Moreover, it was pretty well specked with the fungus.

                                                        I respect your knowledge and experience, but I am not sure if generalizations apply. Perhaps the suggestion should be to carefully read the package label?

                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                          It's certainly possible to make real truffle butter, but to be flavorful / aromatic enough to be useful it would cost around $75 a pound for Tuber aestivum or albidum, $300 for melanosporum, and maybe $1000 for magnatum Pico.

                                                          The commercial varieties I've seen always include "aroma" in the ingredients.

                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                            I currently have a (small) jar of Burro fil Tartuffo Bianco -- just butter and loads of white truffle shards. Truly amazing stuff. No "essence" in sight. Years ago, I placed a tiny white truffle in a bowl with 2 dozen eggs. After a week I had incredibly potent eggs, and still had the truffle to play with. This is a very pricy ingredient, but if you go in with a few friends and use it wisely, it's not unreasonable.

                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                              What brand, and what was the price?

                                                              I've tried putting fresh white Tuber magnatum Pico in eggs and rice and they didn't pick up enough flavor that I noticed it in the final dish until I shaved the truffle on it.

                                                              Once at Zuni Cafe in SF I ordered a white truffle risotto that was 50% more expensive than their usual risotto, so I expected shavings. There were none, nor was their any detectable aroma. I asked the server, she said they'd stored truffles in the rice. I sent it back.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                Market Hall: $58 dollars for 2.8 oz, and worth every penny.

                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                  Yeah, that's expensive enough to be real.

                                                                  They made it themselves? Most years they get good white truffles imported directly by Bob Klein, who owns Oliveto. Which charged $12 a gram in their truffle dinners this year.

                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          maybe I'm off base, but I read ChefJune's response as a suggestion to make truffle butter with the truffles that someone has on hand to make them go further.


                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            I'm not Chef June (you say you noticed that, did you?), but I've made a fairly acceptable black truffle butter using some of the canned melanosporum truffle peels I bought. If you want to fake being "luxurious" on the cheap, you can't beat canned truffle peels. When I make beef Wellington, first I line the puff pastry with very thin prosciutto (or Iberian, or Westphalian) as a moisture barrier, then spread on a layer of very thick (fairly dry) duxelle, top that with a layer of pate over which I spread some of the minced truffle peels before adding the seared tenderloin and rolling up the whole package.

                                                            Add truffle peels to a chicken liver pate and you've got people eating out of your hand! Devein and clean a pound or two of chicken livers, saute some onions until transparent, add the chicken livers, brown gently keeping them a bit pink on the inside. Flambe with some cognac or brandy, slide it all into a blender, whirr on high adding chunks of butter until you've added at least two cubes or butter. More if you're not on a diet. Lots more! <g> Turn into a bowl (it will seem fairly liquid) and stir in a happy amount of course chopped truffle peels and blend. You can chill it in a terrine, or in a mold you will turn out just prior to serving. Toast is the way to fly. The butter is what makes it "solid" when chilled, so if you use a mold, it's best served on a plate suspended over cracked ice. Hey, it's festive that way!

                                                            The truffle peels also do lovely things with egg dishes, and such. And no.... They're not as demandingly wonderful as a fresh truffle straight from the pup's mouth in the glens of Perigord, but hey, there's a recession still winding down!

                                                            And just for the record, you can get a lot of mileage from the truffle peels by adding a minced spoonful or two to a duxelle made from plain old fashioned button mushrooms. I once tried mixing them with morels, and found I like the flavor blend of buttons and peels better. Your mileage may differ...

                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Were those Plantin "peelings"? I had a couple of cans of those and they had good flavor. Based on that experience I tried their "breakings" and that was not good.

                                                      2. I looked at the truffle products at a fancy food shop (the Pasta Shop in Oakland, CA) today. One 80-gram $25 jar of porcini and truffle cream listed "white truffle 10% Tuber magnatum Pico" and no "aroma" or "extract." However, that seems implausible, since at auction white truffles have been going for $3.50 a gram and up, so that would be over $25 just for the truffle.

                                                        That was the most expensive product. The cheaper ones all had "aroma" or "extract" or Tuber aestivum.

                                                        1. I have enough white truffle left over to last for 1, maybe 2 dishes....some great ideas in this thread.