Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Difference Between Truffle Oil and Truffle Juice

 

French chefs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were forever combining their favorite salad ingredients—vegetables, seafood, and meat—with sliced, shaved, or julienned black, and occasionally white, truffles. A truffle is the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus. Some of the truffle species are highly prized as a food. French gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin called truffles "the diamonds of the kitchen". Edible truffles are held in high esteem in Middle Eastern, French, Spanish, Italian and Greek cooking, as well as in international haute cuisine.

truffle-juice-vs-truffle-oil


Truffles are ectomycorrhizal fungi and are therefore usually found in close association with the roots of trees. Truffles are the fruiting bodies of species in the genus Tuber, of which there are a handful of commercially important ones. Spore dispersal is accomplished through fungivores, animals that eat fungi. Sadly, truffles are just one of those things that most of us have to do without. Even those among us who may buy a truffle or two as a holiday splurge can’t count on them as an everyday staple the way Escoffier and his clientele did at the turn of the last century. Truffle oil and truffle juice can help us all through this unfortunate circumstance. Neither of these is cheap, but both provide the flavor if not the texture and black color of the real thing. The situation is complicated by the big differences among brands. Some of the oils and juices are so intensely flavored that a couple of teaspoons in half a cup of sauce will more than do the trick; with others, half the bottle is required. I’d recommend specific brands, but even bottles from the same manufacturer seem to differ. You can buy small bottles of truffle oil and truffle juice and try them out, but even this is an expensive and potentially discouraging undertaking.

What are White Truffles and Black Truffles?

The flavors of black and white truffles are quite distinct. Black truffles are relatively subtle and earthy, with a mix of a dozen or so alcohols and aldehydes, and some dimethyl sulfide. (They also contain small amounts of androstenone, a steroid compound also found in men’s underarm sweat and secreted in the saliva of the male pig, where it prompts mating behavior in the sow. Some people are unable to smell androstenone, while others can and may find it unappetizing.) White truffles have a stronger, pungent, somewhat garlicky aroma thanks to a number of unusual sulfur compounds. The flavor of black truffles is generally thought to be enhanced by gentle cooking, while the flavor of white truffles, though strong, is fragile, and best enjoyed by shaving paper-thin slices onto a dish just before serving. Such cross sections of truffle reveal its inner structure: a network of fine veins running between masses of spore-bearing cells.

Black truffles are best used for cooking/ heated applications. White truffles are best used for cold/ fresh applications.

Truffle Oil and Truffle Juice

Truffle oil is a modern culinary ingredient, used to impart the flavor and aroma of truffles to a dish. Most truffle oils are not made from actual truffles, but are a synthetic product that combines a thioether (2,4-dithiapentane), one of numerous aromas or odorants found in truffles, with an olive oil or grapeseed oil base. As with pure olive oils, these range from clear to cloudy, and yellow to green. Daniel Patterson reported in the New York Times that "even now, you will find chefs who are surprised to hear that truffle oil does not actually come from real truffles."

Truffle oil is commonly used to make "truffle fries," which feature French fries tossed in truffle oil, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and sometimes other ingredients. Some pasta dishes and whipped dishes such as mashed potatoes or deviled eggs incorporate truffle oil.

Truffle oil, available in all seasons and steady in price, is popular with chefs (and some diners) because it is much less expensive than actual truffles, while possessing some of the same flavors and aroma. The emergence and growth of truffle oil has led to an increase in the availability of foods claiming to be made with or flavored with truffles, in an era when the price of truffles has pushed them out of reach for most diners. Real truffle oil (which contains actual truffle, and more truffle than oil instead of the other way around) can go for $90 an ounce.

Truffle juice is something else again. Truffle juice is one of those little luxuries that you didn’t even know you needed, but once you try adding it to your kitchen repertoire, you’ll find it indispensible. It isn’t really juice but what the French call cuisson, meaning cooking liquid; it is the juice released by the truffles that are cooked for bottling and canning. This liquid can be full of flavor but it can also be insipid or overly salty, and unless you happen to can your own truffles is not something you can reasonably make yourself.

What is the Difference Between Truffle Oil and Truffle Juice?

Truffle oil and truffle juice are used in somewhat different ways because the oil is soluble in fat— including oil, butter, cream, egg, and poultry fat—and the juice is soluble in water and other liquids. If you’re using either one in vinaigrette or in an emulsified sauce such as mayonnaise, hollandaise, or beurre blanc (which contain both fat and water), you can use the oil, the juice, or both. In some sauces—hollandaise, for instance—you may not want the flavor of the olive oil used to make commercial truffle oil. You’re better off using truffle juice or your own homemade oil made with flavorless oil.

How to Make your Own Homemade Natural Truffle Oil

Fresh truffles are very perishable and emit their aroma in storage. They’re best kept refrigerated in a closed container with some material often rice to absorb moisture and keep their surface from getting wet and spoiled by microbes.

You can save money and come up with something better by making your own truffle oil. If you want to make white truffle oil, buy a white truffle from a reliable supplier sometime in late October or early November. It will cost about as much as a modest dinner for two. Push the truffle through the mouth of a quart or liter bottle of good extra-virgin olive oil. Screw the bottle top on tightly and store the oil for a week before you use it. If you want to make black truffle oil, do the same thing, using either extra-virgin olive oil or a relatively tasteless vegetable oil such as “pure” olive oil or canola oil, but wait until December or January to buy the truffles. The prices usually drop a little in January, since most of us want our truffles for the holidays. The oil should last, kept in a cool place or in the fridge, for most of the next year.


Do you like going to French restaurants? You must read this... 101 Common French Food Terms Pronunciation You Must Know



References:

Ian R. Hall, Gordon Brown, and Alessandra Zambonelli. 2008. Taming the Truffle: The History, Lore, and Science of the Ultimate Mushroom. Timber Press. ISBN-10: 0881928607

Annemie Dedulle and Toni de Coninck. 2009. Truffles: Earth's Black Diamonds.
Firefly Books. ISBN-10: 1554074983

Elisabeth Luard. 2006. Truffles. Frances Lincoln. ISBN-10: 0711224935



Watch How to Use Truffle Oil and Truffle Juice (VIDEO)

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