Although this really comes as no surprise to me, the New York Times Dining section featured an article (I know, old article. But it’s news to me) explaining that truffle oils are more a chemical concoction containing 2,4-Dithiapentane than a true infused oil. Unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to eat fresh truffle but I have always suspected truffle oil wasn’t a completely accurate flavor profile of the fungus.
All across the country, in restaurants great and small, the “truffle” flavor advertised on menus is increasingly being supplied by truffle oil. What those menus don’t say is that, unlike real truffles, the aroma of truffle oil is not born in the earth. Most commercial truffle oils are concocted by mixing olive oil with one or more compounds like 2,4-dithiapentane (the most prominent of the hundreds of aromatic molecules that make the flavor of white truffles so exciting) that have been created in a laboratory; their one-dimensional flavor is also changing common understanding of how a truffle should taste.