The One Ingredient Martha Stewart Hates Cooking With

If you're a fan of Martha Stewart, you probably already know that the celebrity chef is a big proponent of cooking with truffles. Not only does she often highlight her use of the delicacy on social media, but she has also shared plenty of truffle-centric recipes through the years, including black truffle pasta and white truffle soup, and she offers similar options at her Las Vegas restaurant. No matter the dish, however, it'll always use fresh truffles, never truffle oil.

Though truffle oil can certainly impart a truffle flavor into dishes, it tastes too artificial for Martha Stewart's standards, and therefore she refuses to cook with it. "Oh, I would never use truffle oil, oh never," she revealed in an interview with Today. "It clings to your taste buds, it's a hideous thing. Forget truffle oil." Instead, as Stewart once mentioned in her blog, she prefers whole white truffles, which she often gets in bulk at Urbani in New York City.

Truffle oil isn't made with real truffles

So what's the reason Stewart can love truffles but hate truffle oil? Well, turns out that there's often not very much truffle in truffle oil. In fact, despite its name, truffle oil doesn't typically contain any truffle at all, but rather 2,4-dithiapentane, a synthetic version of a natural compound found in real truffles, according to the American Chemical Society. Perhaps someone who's never tasted real truffles before wouldn't be able to tell the difference, but evidently, Stewart can, and she like many other chefs, doesn't think the cheaper price point is worth settling for less.

While you can sometimes find truffle oils that contain specks of raw truffle floating around in them, the flavor won't be any more pronounced, according to the Spruce Eats. The reason for this is that natural flavor compounds of truffle are difficult to extract. A bit of truffle debris in some oil isn't going to do much except give the illusion that you're tasting real truffles. The majority of the flavor in these oils still comes from 2,4-dithiapentane even if truffles are technically named on the ingredients list. 

If you're really after a natural truffle oil, you can pretty easily infuse extra virgin olive oil with black truffles yourself, but the flavor doesn't last for more than a few days, and there are better alternatives that are easy to come by. 

Better alternatives to truffle oil

Much of the appeal of truffle oil is that it's a more affordable way to get a taste of truffles. The whole truffles Martha Stewart gets at Urbani, for example, costs a whopping $160 for only half an ounce, and the Australian ones she once raved about on Instagram aren't much cheaper. Fortunately, if real truffles are out of your price range, you still don't have to settle for truffle oil.

According to the Martha Stewart website, it's better to opt for truffle salt or truffle carpaccio, both of which cost around $30. Truffle salt is simply salt mixed with tiny pieces of truffle. Like truffle oil, it can contribute that distinct truffle essence to a dish, but the salt is a lot better quality because it gets its flavor from actual truffles. Truffle carpaccio gives you even more truffle flavor to work with, as it consists of whole chunks of truffle preserved in olive oil. We can only assume the oil from the jar of truffle carpaccio is the only form of truffle oil Martha Stewart would be willing to cook with.