The price of actual truffles is extravagant. With Italian white truffles often exceeding $200 per ounce and even the less-expensive black truffles still costing more than $20 per ounce, the actual fungi are out of the range of most people’s dining budgets. But that hasn’t affected people wanting that unique, luxurious flavor. Now, thanks to the rise in truffle condiments, it’s possible to have the taste without the cost.
This was arguably the first truffle seasoning to take the market by storm. Truffle salt uses small amounts of truffles and mixes them into coarse salt, then sealing the container tightly. The “crumbs” infuse the salt with their flavor, creating a seasoning that is perfect for a finishing garnish. Because it’s made with salt, it can be used for nearly everything, from fries to salads. Using coarse salt also adds a little extra earthy crunch, while fine salt makes the seasoning melt into things like soups and dressings. Most truffle salts are made with black truffles; their slightly stronger flavor infuses the salt more easily than the milder white.
Available in both white and black varieties, truffle oils are another luxury seasoning that is becoming more common in both professional and home kitchens. But is it really truffles? The truth is almost certainly not unless you are making your own or only dealing with very high-end makers (with accompanying high-end prices). Most of these oils are made with a synthetic ingredient called 2,4-dithiapentane—the molecule responsible for the distinct aroma of real truffles. By using this ingredient, truffle oils can be manufactured and purchased at lower price points. The aroma and flavor are there—to a point—without the high price.
Truffle oil is a controversial condiment. Many professional chefs dislike it and won’t use it, even going so far as to speak very negatively about it. Other professionals consider the flavor to be a poor imitation of the real thing, though some testing has shown many people, even the pros, can’t always tell the difference between real and synthetic. But controversial or not, the oil remains popular among consumers, especially those who consider themselves home chefs.
Real truffle oil is out there, though of course, the cost is much higher. Some professional chefs prefer to make their own, however, so if yours is a kitchen that uses truffles, using small, leftover pieces and scraps to infuse your own oil may be the best bet.
The market for truffle flavor has gone far beyond salt and oils. Today, they are found in a wide variety of spreads and condiments, from butter to ketchup. While some of these products use synthetic ingredients, plenty is using the real thing. And the availability is far beyond specialty stores. In 2020, Trader Joe’s released Tomato Ketchup with Black Summer Truffle, an umami-rich condiment made from Italian tomatoes and tartufi neri estivi. The seasonal offering sold out quickly, but the chain brought it back for 2021, to great consumer acclaim.
Truff, a company based in Huntington Beach, CA, created their signature hot sauce, made with black truffles. “It tastes like Truffle & Sriracha had a baby,” boasts their website. The hot sauce was immensely popular, and now the company has expanded its offerings. They have three hot sauces (original, hotter, and white truffle), two different kinds of mayonnaise (black truffle and spicy), and two pasta sauces. All of their creations are made with real truffles rather than synthetic flavoring.
Truffle-Hunter.com, an award-winning UK-based online supplier of truffles and truffle goods, has an entire section of their website devoted to condiments. Their offerings include mustard, honey, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and mayonnaise, as well as truffle dust, truffle salts, and truffle oils. They also offer preserved truffle slices, minced truffle, truffle pate, and more. Truffle Hunter uses only real truffles in their creations, which likely explains their Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2021. They supply both consumers and restaurants.
Bring the flavor of truffles to your guests without having to tax their wallets or your budget. Using truffle condiments offers variety and taste, and is on-trend!
Chef Tony is a 42-year veteran of the food industry and is often known by his peers as “The New Product Guru.” Throughout his illustrious culinary career, he’s earned several notable titles and positions including Acquisition International’s “Most Influential Product Development Expert, U.S.” in 2019.
In 1997, Tony also founded Culinary Systems Inc., a group of culinary consultants that assist with culinary training, restaurant start-ups, concept development, and more. Since then, Tony and his team have generated over two billion dollars in sales for their clients in restaurants, retail, and manufacturing.
The strategic, technical, and culinary skills of Tony and his team can be seen on the menus of national chains, in the portfolio of national food manufacturers, and on the grocery shelves of products produced by major retail companies.