With the popularity of food reality television, food shows, and star chefs more home cooks are using exotic ingredients. Saffron, wild caught salmon, and truffles used to be ingredients found only in five star kitchens but today these fixings, and thousands more, are available to almost everyone.
Truffle olive oil, French truffle olive oil, truffle olive oil that is black, and white truffle olive oil are all similar oils that were infused with the taste of the magical truffle, a fungus much like a mushroom.
What Is a Truffle?
A truffle is a fungus, like a mushroom, but it grows underground near particular species of trees. The type of truffle depends on the kind of tree. Locating truffles is traditionally done with a "truffle hog". It’s a female pig that normally searches for truffles as part of her diet but recently they started using trained dogs instead as the pig kept eating the expensive truffles she would find.
Varieties of Truffles
Truffles come in a number of varieties. Most truffles are considered either white or black, although there is a variety of truffle that is considered red because its flavor is reminiscent of berries. Some truffle varieties are:
This black truffle is on the menu of several gourmet restaurants. They grow chiefly in France, although also in some other European countries have them as well, and are picked in the winter and autumn months.
It's a coffee colored inside and smells a bit like cornmeal. It is usually used with fresh vegetables.
These black truffles have dark flesh and a hard shell with veins of white. It is extremely inexpensive and has delicate flavor and a light scent. Olive oils infused with this truffle will not have the rich flavor of traditional truffle olive oils.
This species of black truffle has a garlicky scent plus a smooth surface skin dotted with warts. It is a uniquely sweet truffle that's found in Hungary. It’s frequently used in desserts and ice creams.
The Italian white truffle is considered to be the most luxury truffle of all. They are only available a couple months out of the year, almost exclusively from one part of Italy, where they must be foraged by special pigs, and there are fewer of them, and of lesser quality, every year.
Pecan truffles grow around pecan trees in the Southern United States. They're merely just beginning to be utilized in commercial kitchens but sell for about $100 USD a pound.
Truffle olive oil originated as a means to add the lavish flavor of truffles without the extreme cost of the fresh truffle to their dishes. A olive oil is infused with bits of truffle until the oil carries the flavor and scent of the expensive fungus.
Let the buyer beware. Much of the inexpensive truffle olive oil found at your corner supermarket is a cheap, knock-off imitation, made with cheap olive oil and a chemical truffle scent. It contains no real truffle at all.
Truffles are the priciest food in the world (fetching up to $2000 USD a pound) because they resist all our attempts to control them. They can't be eaten out of season or be mass produced. In a world in which we have grown increasingly accustomed to the notion that enough cash can fulfill any whim, truffles are growing increasingly rare; the owner of a French Truffle Company tells stories of wealthy customers throwing tantrums when a poor year of weather means eateries can not serve them truffles.
Truffle olive oil promised the allure of truffles with all the convenience and mass production whose absence in the truffle industry makes it rare and exciting. It is not surprising that all of us were taken in.