According to this article on Priceononmics.com entitled There Are No Truffles in Truffle Oil:

Despite the name, most truffle oil does not contain even trace amounts of truffle; it is olive oil mixed with 2,4-dithiapentane, a compound that makes up part of the smell of truffles and is as associated with a laboratory as Californian food is associated with local and organic ingredients. Essentially, truffle oil is olive oil plus truffles’ “disconcerting” smell.

The article further claims that this is because global warming, deforestation, etc have led Italian and French truffle production to crash:

...the production of black truffles in France to decline from roughly 1,320 tons in 1910 to 32 tons today....

However, I feel a little suspicious as the article also says that "the cost of truffles from places like China and the United States are more on par with ordinary mushrooms in terms of prices" which makes it seem entirely plausible that most "truffle oil" could simply be made from cheaper Chinese and US fungi.

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    Anecdote: In Australia, packaged food is required to list the ingredients. I checked the bottle in my pantry. "Olive oil, Black truffle aroma". Hmmm...
    – Oddthinking
    Sep 8 '16 at 4:05
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    @HorusKol Just to be sure I understood : in your country, ingredient lists don't make a difference between "aroma" and "artifcial aroma" ? Sep 8 '16 at 7:42
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    Wait what is your question? Do you think that truffle oil was previously made directly from truffles or are you questioning the fact that previously truffle oil was made from other oil + truffles and now it is from other oils + artificial flavors? AFAIK truffle oil was never made directly from truffles, it has always been just an oil with added truffle aroma in some way.
    – Bakuriu
    Sep 8 '16 at 10:11
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    @SeriousSarah: trufflearoma.com/about says "Truffle aroma, also known as truffle essence or truffle flavor, contains the same aromatic molecules found in fresh white or black truffles that gives off their pungent smell" and "truffle essence was invented to give chefs a substitute that would match the taste [of fresh truffles] at an affordable cost" which suggests to me that the molecules found in in truffles were identified and then produced another way to make truffle aroma
    – Henry
    Sep 8 '16 at 11:11
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    @Henry Ok, so the words "aroma" and "essence" don't have the same meanings depending on the country (and the legislation). Sep 8 '16 at 11:32

In France, the difference between a natural and an artificial aromas is the simple 2-letter word "de": for a natural aroma, "arôme de truffe" is written on the label (i.e. aroma from truffles), whereas for artificial aroma, "arôme truffe" (i.e. truffle aroma) is indicated.

According to the DGCCRF (French national agency for consumers and against frauds) noted in August 2013 that there was a 60% decrease in fake "natural aroma oils" in France.


There is no such thing as 'truffle oil' in the sense of oil obtained from truffles, as fungi contain almost no fat.

Truffle oil is therefore naturally or artificially flavoured oil, typically olive oil.

A quick look at UK supermarkets suggests a typical 'truffle oil' is little or no more expensive than oils flavoured with more prosaic substances, such as chillis. http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/asda-compare-prices/Oils_And_Vinegar/La_Espanola_Truffle_Flavour_Olive_Oil_250ml.html However, the ingredients claim to contain 'truffle extract'.

According to various sources 'truffle extract' is of dubious definition

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/16/dining/16truf.html http://www.organicauthority.com/foodie-buzz/truffle-oil-a-chemical-concoction-disguised-as-gourmet-delicacy.html

The process of creating 'truffle flavour' is not really a clear one, albeit that in the case of orange juice (which obviously has a lot more waste, in the form of peels and pulp, than truffles), chemical orange flavours are isolated from orange waste and added to the juice.

It is possible that various processing stages on raw truffles can elicit a large amount of flavour compounds.

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