FE520 The nature of Truffle Oils

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    Alana McGee

    How quickly do the truffle oils degrade? I keep about 8-10 q-tips in a screwtop plastic bottle with white truffle oil drops. Will this sour or decay over time?

    Each time we hunt, I transfer a q-tip to a small scent vial. At the end of the session, I put all the q-tips back into the oil bottle. So far, so good. Is there a better way? I like this because I can put the scent vial in yet another container (or in the ground), and Tippet seems to find it. He has not swallowed one yet and I expect it would move through his system okay (carefully monitored, of course) if he did gulp it.

    I have ordered the NW oil. Am I correct in assuming a dog can smell the discrete odors in the blend? Thus, if he does well with the NW blend, he will signal white or black truffles?

    Alana McGee

    Hi Sandra.

    Your packaged shipped yesterday and is on its way to you now.

    The rate at which the volatiles degrade or spoil will depend on the specific oil/ training solution your are using. If kept out of heat, what you are doing is just fine! Every couple of weeks I would add a drop or two- go by your own sense of smell if you are using a commercially produced oil.

    For the truffle solution we make, yes, it is a compound solution so that is precisely the idea is to familiarize the dog with a variety of odors at once. We recommend adding a few drops every week if you are storing training aids like that. We also strongly encourage the use of just one odor at a time too, if available. (Hence the Joel Palmer house oils of each species).

    Every dog is different, and the key to successful truffle hunting is in the dog recognizing and alerting on an ‘array’ of specific volatiles, not necessarily in conjunction with each other. Some dogs are very literal and for them it can be important to work not only on a compound solution but on each odor independently as well.

    Eventually you will want to practice with the real thing (fresh or frozen) if you can, for a variety of reasons, which is something I believe we talk about in this course if not FE530, as well. It isn’t absolutely necessary, mind you, but again, our goal is to have you be as prepared as possible for truffle hunting and finding real truffles growing in the field.

    We generally tell students to pick one odor, (the compound solution is fine for this) and then once you are confident enough in your training, or say at the stage you & Tippet are at, to start working with the other species you intend to find. Based on what we have seen, it is our opinion Tippet is unlikely to have any problems switching odors or scents, and will alert on any found in the array, but you should still practice occasionally using targets with just one or another species.

    For example- say you plant 5 hides. Two of them with white oil, 2 with black oil, and 1 with the compound solution.

    It is made to be stable at room temperature and not decay (so shelf life of a year), but both our training solution and Joel Palmer house truffle oil will last longer if refrigerated.

    Alana McGee

    I keep white and black q-tips in separate mason jars using the PNW solution. Today when I opened the jars, both were very strong smelling and not very pleasant, have not refreshed the oil in a few days. Wondering if the scent has gone “ripe” and if I should replace the q-tips with fresh oil and clean/wipe out the jars? I have the solution in the fridge, but should I keep the scented q-tips in there as well?


    Alana McGee

    Hi Alyssia.

    If it smells “ripe” like you are suggesting then Yes, we would recommend that, straight away. You are in California after all, and it can be hot inside!

    Usually it’s not an issue, but if you have space in your fridge to do that, it probably would be a good idea. When you say white and black q tips- you mean the q tips are white and black or q-tips for each truffle oil?

    What I am interpreting is colored q-tips- each with the PNW solution on them, correct? If they are smelling “ripe” though- and you know rotten mushroom smell, yes, replace it. We don’t want to train Ashely on odor of decay. But how you are storing them otherwise should be just fine. If it continues to be an issue let us know and we can send more PNW solution.

    *if it is Joel Palmer house Oils some of that may be the odor of the olive oil oxidizing- also not ideal to train Ashley on, but the volatiles we want will still be there. (Again why it is good to occasionally use the real thing- fresh or frozen at some point)

    Strong and kind of gross is one thing (that’s how concentrated truffles smell- especially when combined in an olive oil- which is why we avoid using those in our own solution)- “ripe or down right rotten” is another. We trust you can kind of tell the difference especially because of your mushroom savvy background.

    **By the way- trying to collect matsutake to make a training solution from it soon too! WOOO! Don’t have enough yet tho.

    Alana McGee

    Hi Alana,

    I know lots of people love matsutake. Have you tried matsutake? I have once and that
    was one time too many for me! They taste like they smell. For people who haven’t smelled
    them, the smell is described as a mix between ‘red hots’ and dirty socks. All I smell is dirty socks.

    If Bill likes them, he can have them. Otherwise, we will trade them for something we like. 🙂

    Alana McGee

    Last year I literally stumbled on one… Cooked it poorly aka like other mushrooms- and had the exact same reaction you did. They were gross.

    HOWEVER I since have had other people cook them in asian style flavor palate devoid of dairy, with sake and a wee bit of soy sauce and they were pretty good. I tried to re-create myself this weekend with less success. They are very strong and I added too much soy which brought out that intense weird cinnamon quality they have.

    I feel like I’d have to be in the mood for it, but when someone cooks them who knows what they are doing, i’ve had decently positive experiences- but I’m not totally sold, yet. I do like finding them though 🙂 Almost as much as truffle hunting 🙂

    Alana McGee

    I had them cooked by Noah Siegel – I have liked all of his mushroom dishes except for this one. It wasn’t the cook. They were cooked with jalapinos.

    One thing to be careful with matsutaki, is that they can be found with and mis-ided for Russula brevipes – edible or with Amanita smithii – poisonous. We have had people at forays find matsutaki and when the mushrooms were checked by an expert, there was an Amanita smithii in the basket.

    Even when we collect hundreds of little mushrooms, we id each and every one prior to eating.

    I will give matsutaki another try if it’s prepared asian style.

    Alana McGee


    Actually I am in Northern Virginia. I try to throw the wet q-tips out, but it’s possible had some in there and got contaminated, in any case threw the old ones out and started over. Planning to order the Pecan truffles to have something real to work with.

    Thanks for the help.

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