How to Make Truffle Oil With Real Truffles
Having made two videos rubbishing commercial truffle oil, it is time to redress the balance and look at how to make a decent oil with real truffles.
Be warned, if you are used to shop-bought oil with its enhanced flavour profile – the taste of homemade stuff is far more subtle. But also more fragrant, more complex.
Oil made with actual truffles might actually work out cheaper than the mysterious concotions churned out by the truffle oil industry. Summer truffles or tuber aestivum are in season right now and the going rate is about 200 euros per kilo. If you want to make half a litre of oil (two cups) then you will only need 20 grams of truffle which will set you back 4 euros. The ideal time to buy truffles and to make your products -oil, butter, paste- is in July when there is a glut! Truffle prices can fluctuate rather wildly but a kilo of summer truffles rarely cost over 500 euros. Use the best quality truffle you can find and avoid those early season pieces which are over-priced and not aromatic enough to impart much flavour. As for the carrier oil, go for the best quality you can afford – I would recommend a light, subtle olive oil
If you hunt truffles you will want to make your own oil when you have left-over truffles which you could not sell and of course most hunters are addicted to truffles so they really want to be able to get their fix after the truffle season is a distant memory. Or perhaps you have bought truffles and couldn’t finish them. Oil is probably the easiest solution to deal with excess truffles and it will last for between 1 and 3 months depending on the method you use.
The Cold Process
This is the easiest way to make truffle oil although you will have to wait a week to eat it. Wash 20 grams of fresh truffle carefully. Use a brush, plenty of water and a careful eye to dislodge grains of earth from between the nodules on the truffle surface. Dry the truffle well, pat it with a towel as you don’t want any water in your oil. Shave the truffle using a mandolin if you possess one, if not ,use a sharp knife and chop it up into very small pieces. You can grate the truffle, however I would steer clear of the smaller holes as they can make the truffle gratings a little watery. Decide where you will store the oil, I tend to use jars as I find them easier to sterilize, but an elegant bottle is a lot classier. Just make sure that the container
- is sterilized (I boil mine)
- has a screw top and not a cork
Put the oil and the truffle pieces into the jar. Close the lid tightly. Give it a shake and put it in the fridge, where it will stay forever apart from the moments you are using it. Every day for a week you need to give the jar and its contents a shake and then put it back in the fridge. The shaking will help to hurry along the infusion process.
After a week you might like to strain the oil to remove the truffle bits which you can then dispose of. If you like, you can leave the truffle pieces in the oil. Whatever your preference, the oil is now ready for consumption. As mentioned before, it must be stored in the fridge and used within a month. This is a serious matter as truffle oil made in this way is susceptible to botulism. Don’t leave anything to chance and label and date your bottle so you can keep an eye on the sell-by date of the oil!
The Hot Process
For this method you will use the same ingredients and the same sterilized jar or bottle. You also need a pan and a thermometer. Place half a litre of oil in the pan and heat it until it reaches 180 degrees celsius (356 fahrenheit). Quickly add the washed, dried, shaved truffle (20 grams) and cook for 5 minutes, constantly keeping the temperature of the oil at 180. After 5 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and allow the contents to cool. Then it is time for you to pour the oil and truffle slices into your sterilized container, screw on the lid, label the jar and put it in the fridge. Once more it’s up to you whether to keep the pieces of truffle in the oil or not. Truffle oil made with this hot process have a longer shelf life and will keep for up to 3 months. Keep the jar in the fridge with the lid tightly screwed on. Use your nose, if the oil ever starts to smell slightly rancid then unfortunately you will have to bin it. Don’t worry though if the appearance of the oil alters. Olive oil may become opaque or even solidify when kept in the fridge – this is quite safe and affects neither quality nor flavour.
This is a finishing oil so don’t use it for roasting or frying. It goes well on pasta dishes like macaroni and cheese, risotto, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, good bread and wherever else you would use commercial oil.
So there you have it, proper truffle oil made from 100% truffles, no aromas, essences, concentrates, flavourings, extracts, no tricks. Buon appetito real food fans!