The Trouble with Truffles (oil that is...)

For those who are interested in truffle oil, as posted elsewhere on the site, I suggest you google 2-4 dithiapentane:

While this may be disappointing, most truffle oil sold in the US is pure applied chemistry courtesy of IFF on Route 36 in Keansburg, NJ, albeit diluted with a little EVO.

Italian pigs were neither harmed or nor involved in the manufacture, although a few Jersey lab rats may have suffered.

The manufactured “truffle” oil sold is strongly flavored on purpose, as that’s what most consumers are looking for.

By the way, this is not to be confused with the trouble with tribbles, which is a different thing altogether:


Much as it pains me, and before someone else points this out, there is also a guest editorial in my not so favorite newspaper about the topic:

So any ha ha posts about this article are preempted, and I will (not so gladly) take the hit for reposting this.

After all, even a blind pig finds a truffle once in a while.

This is old news. I have been gifted genuine truffle oil, and have bought the fake stuff. Happily for me, I like both.

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And I am doubly glad for you.

But applied chemistry is not my thing. For example, I’m also not a big fan of imitation vanilla or almond extract.

To me it is also old news, but I have been seeing a lot of posts about truffle oil this, and truffle oil that, which should probably read imitation truffle oil this or that.

So I have to wonder if the knowledge is general.

According to the article, a lot of chefs are not aware.

When I see Truffle oil on a menu, it’s is a red flag to order another dish— its overuse can kill a dish.


Wait, vanilla extract has no vanilla also?

awful stuff. just ruins a plate of food for me. smells like an old laundry hamper. but it is so prevalently used that a lot of people must love it.

You have to check the label carefully. This is the largest selling product in the USA and it contains no real vanilla, only chemistry:

It couldn’t possibly be more clear that the pictured vanilla is artificial. IMITATION. McCormick also sells genuine vanilla extract. Cooks Illustrated tested both in baking and found no difference save price. The imitation is made from wood pulp and smells very different. I tried it and did taste an unpleasant difference despite CI’s findings. It just goes to show that individual palates differ. I can tell with vanillas but not with truffle oils.

Well 90% of the vanilla extract sold in this country is IMITATION.

And most people don’t know or realize this.

That’s the point.

Do you have a source for this statement? I see non-imitation vanilla at stores everywhere. I doubt most stores would carry it if they would only sell authentic vanilla as 10% of their vanilla sales.


To quote from the wikipedia article you linked:

"Synthetic vanillin is now used more often than natural vanilla extract as a flavoring agent in foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.

Vanillin and ethylvanillin are used by the food industry;"

I don’t doubt that the FOOD INDUSTRY uses vanillin more than vanilla. Is that what you meant when you posted a picture of McCormick Imitation Vanilla Extract and said it was the largest selling product in the USA? Because I don’t know that more vanillin is sold in RETAIL STORES to home cooks than real vanilla - that would surprise me frankly and I would be even more surprised if the people buying a product that says IMITATION right on it would be unaware that they were purchasing an IMITATION.

The price of vanilla has gone up recently but not enough to make me start buying vanillin instead.

With truffle oil it’s different - I believe you’re right that many people don’t know it’s a laboratory-created product. Although I wonder if anyone on Hungry Onion doesn’t know it - we discussed that very NYT article you linked at great length over on CH when it was first published.

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Most people don’t care and just pick up whatever is cheapest.

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That’s great, but doesn’t provide an answer to my question. You stated 90% of vanilla sold in this country is imitation. I’m asking for a source of that statement. No where in this Wikipedia link does it state that.

Yes Boogers, it does. You know it’s not really my job to read the article for you and I have been kind of busy today:

"Chemical synthesis

The demand for vanilla flavoring has long exceeded the supply of vanilla beans. As of 2001, the annual demand for vanillin was 12,000 tons, but only 1,800 tons of natural vanillin were produced.[29]"

This was before a drought in Madagascar severely affected supplies in 2004 and again this year:

If you do the math it’s 85-90% of total annual consumption is synthetic. In drought years it is probably more.

An no, not all of the 12,000 tons is sold under that label by McCormick, but their imitation extract is the US market leader and outsells natural extract by a wide margin.

Demand does not equal sales or consumption. Nor does production equal sales or consumption.

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I’m not sure understand what your trying to say there. Perhaps you can explain?

Hi, please feel free to disagree with each other. But let’s not call names. Thanks.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
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