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Fresh truffles have a notoriously short shelf life and, while no one can disagree that the best way to enjoy truffles is as fresh from the ground as possible, there are times when that is simply not possible.
As with all those pesky and delightful fresh foods, truffles are seasonal. Even within the seasons, there are certainly moments when they reach their absolute peak. There are three ways to capture some of their delight:
- Truffle oil
- Truffle butter
- Truffle salt
1. Truffle Oil
Fact: Most truffle oil that you buy has never been anywhere near a truffle. Any truffle oil you see in the supermarket is likely to be made with "truffle essence." What this means is that it is made with a synthetic compound that replicates the aroma of the truffle. If you do want to buy a truffle oil, always investigate if it has been infused with truffle.
How to Make Truffle Oil
When you're making your own truffle oil, you really just have to experiment to find the recipe you like. I've outlined an example below for a black truffle oil, but you can use any truffle you like.
- 250 ml extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
- 25 grams black truffle
- Sterilize your bottle and any tools you will be using. Then wash your fresh truffle in fresh cold water. You're trying to preserve the truffle, so it is very important that you don't get any contamination!
- Shave or grate your fresh truffle. The more surface area of the truffle you expose to the oil, the more the truffle will infuse with the oil. You may want to leave some of your truffle shaved, so that you can see full slices of truffle in the completed oil.
- Put your truffle in the bottle and pour over the olive oil.
- Seal your oil and leave for 48 hours to infuse.
- Taste your oil and enjoy!
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It is really easy as you can see and storing truffle in olive oil will preserve it for three months. The aroma of the truffle will be lost over that time, and it is important to keep the oil refrigerated to reduce the rate at which this happens. Even though the oil may go cloudy in the fridge or even solidify, taking it back to room temperature will make it go clear again.
Truffle butter is a great way to keep black truffles for cooking. Black truffles have a more robust flavour than white truffles and can, therefore, be used in dishes that require more cooking. Truffle butter is really simple to make and involves blending the truffle with salted or unsalted butter.
- 20 grams truffle
- 250 grams butter
- Get the butter to room temperature, so it is really soft. Dice the truffle finely. Mix the truffle with the butter and make sure you get an even distribution of the truffle in the butter. Mould into the shape you want. Refrigerate to harden.
- You can even make small patties of truffle butter and serve with a steak and voila! You have a perfect simple supper to impress.
3. Truffle Salt
Truffle salt is really popular with chefs because it is such an easy way to add magic to any dish. To make truffle salt, you can choose to either preserve a whole truffle or thinly slice the truffle and distribute it throughout the salt.
Unlike truffle oil and truffle butter, salt has no fat modules to connect to the compound the truffle excretes (the aroma), but the salt itself reacts with the truffle, capturing the aroma. As with oil, it is important that you sterilize the container you use to store the salt, but after that, it's really easy.
- 150 grams good-quality rock salt
- 20 grams truffle
- After sterilizing the container you will use to store your truffle salt, thinly slice the truffle. Put the truffle in the container and add half the salt. Seal the container and shake to mix the salt with the truffle. Add the remaining salt and shake again. Seal.
- It really is that simple. You can then dip into your truffle salt whenever you're cooking.
- Truffle salt probably lasts the longest of any of these methods (at four months), although I'd always suggest using it as soon as you can.