Truffles – gold in soil
Truffles have fascinated people for thousands of years. Their attraction is a tantalizing taste and aroma which, once experienced, can never be forgotten. The taste and aroma of commercially collected truffles is so intense that they are used as a flavoring instead of a separate dish. Magical powers and virtues have even been attributed to truffles. They have been collected for at least 3600 years. Growing underground, they are difficult to find and very expensive as a result. Every Spring, truffle hunters in Europe take to the woods, hoping that the sensitive noses of their trained pigs and dogs will lead them to buried treasure. In 1994, black truffles sold for $350 to $500 a pound.
The name “truffle” has been borrowed to describe small, fancy chocolate candies, another expensive and delicious food. Real truffles are roundish, brown, and dirty when they come out of the ground. They are the fruit of the truffle organism, like apples are the fruit of an apple tree.
Fresh truffles are difficult to come by, and expensive, especially the Italian white truffle . Fortunately, white truffle oil is available relatively cheaply on the market.
You can make your own truffle oil by storing pieces of fresh truffle in clean, sweet, mild tasting oil. The oil is first heated slightley then shaved truffles are added .The more finely chopped the truffle is, the more of its essence it will give up into the oil and the less flavor the pieces themselves will retain. Make sure all liquid is drained off from the truffles before adding them to the oil; reserve the liquid for later use. Any kind of truffle may be used to make truffle oil. Light olive oil and grapeseed oil are good.
Store truffle oil in a cool, dark place away from heat, light and oxygen. Some methods of excluding oxygen include sealing wax or plastic wrap on the surface of the oil as well as nitrogen gas dispensers, sold commercially for wine enthusiasts under the name Private Preserve.
Truffle oil that is kept very cold in your refrigerator will whiten and solidify, but this is not necessarily harmful to the flavor. Truffle oil is tolerant of cold, and can even be frozen, but like fine wine it is less tolerant of temperature fluctuations and may lose quality if it is allowed to solidify and liquefy repeatedly. Remove from cold storage only the amount you intend to immediately use, and leave the rest at temperature.
The best use for truffle oil is summed up in one word â€” drizzle. It is drizzled over mashed potatoes, slices of fresh bread, risottos, and flat breads, asparagus, bowls of pasta, gourmet salads , thick soups, and mushroom ragouts and sauces. Beyond the drizzle, it is used sparingly to make vinaigrettes for fancy salads or other vegetable dishes. Finally, once you get a handle on the taste, experiment by adding a little truffle oil to some of your favorite dishes. You may well find that the best use for your oil is one of your own creations.
Truffles and Fried Egg