Have you been flummoxed by which truffle oil is best? Or even where to start looking? The Never Cook Naked guys have some answers—from buying from a trusted source to sampling anytime you can. Nothing worth it is ever easy or cheap, darlings.
Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: I couldn’t decide between white and black truffle oils at the store. The bottle of black truffle oil said it was milder, whereas the white said it was more robust. Which should I have bought?—Sparing No Expense
Dear Sparing: Neither. In fact, never trust advertising copy. Have you learned nothing from “Mad Men”?
Truffles are expensive. Ridiculously so. So it stands to reason that the oil would be, too. If you find the price on the bottle doesn’t make you gasp, take a moment to consider how that could be. As with most things in this life, you get what you pay for. So do a little research on some companies making honest-to-food-gods truffle oil, like the folks at Oregon Truffle Oil.
Very few truffle oils are made from truffles. Most are made from something the industry calls “truffle essence,” which can be little more than the water that truffles have sat in for an unspecified amount of time. It could also be made from a variety of unnaturally induced truffle extracts, some of which can bring a lovely chemical fandango to your meal, including various industrial solvents. Or it could be an outright chemical concoction that attempts to mimic said truffle essence.
If possible, sample a truffle oil before buying it. Many high-end markets have tasting events—plan on attending. Or scope out the truffle oils in your friends’ cabinets. You don’t have to poke around on the sly. Just try this as an entrée: “I was just telling So-And-So the other day that you’d probably never spring for a bottle of truffle oil.” Your friend will be forced to bring out the bottle and prove you wrong in order to not appear a cheapskate. Discreetly plop a drop in your palm and let it warm for a few seconds. Then slurp it and, if you’re impressed, whip out your iPhone and sneak a picture of the label.
For our money, black truffle oil has a muskier, though strangely more mellow taste, than white truffle oil, which seems a tad spikier and also more fragrant. Although we’d never trust ad copy that told us so.
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Originally published March 4, 2020