2,4-dithiapentane aka bis(methylthio)methane is an ingredient in truffle oil. Great, that was the easiest part. Everyone knows this. There are a few myths out there about this product though that we want to address.
2,4-dithiapentane and bis(methylthio)methane are the the same thing. This is actually basic knowledge but I have seen at least one post out there that says that 2,4-dithiapentane is the flavoring ingredient in white truffle oil and bis(methylthio)methane is the main ingredient in black truffle oil. This is wrong on many levels, which I will get to, but to make that statement just reveals that you do not know what you are talking about. Granted, it is easy to get confused for those of us who are not chemistry majors. Each chemical, synthetic or not, all seem to have multiple names. For what reason, I do not know. Now that we have that easy one out of the way let’s move on.
2,4-dithiapentane is not the only ingredient in truffle oil. I have read so many posts that give the impression that 2,4 is the only ingredient in truffle oil. Let me take that back. . . . It better not be the only ingredient in your truffle oil. The flavoring/aroma chemicals (more on the term “chemicals” coming up, they get such a rap) used to make truffle “essences” are a mix of anywhere from 4 to 10 different chemicals to achieve the truffle aroma and flavor. Black truffle essence is a different mix from white truffle essence. If you were to use 2,4-dithiapentane as your only flavoring ingredient it would not be complex enough to come anywhere close to mimicking the aroma and flavor of truffles. So, if you are looking to buy truffle essence make sure to ask how many aroma/flavor compounds are used in their mix.
This one is the most complex. Chemicals. Natural, nature identical, synthetic. Yes, truffle oils and other truffle flavored products that use chemicals to reproduce the flavor and aroma of truffles get a bad rap. Why??? Because ingesting chemicals is bad for your body??? I have news for you. These same chemicals are produced in nature everyday in the things we eat. Truffles, oranges, meat, milk. . . this is how they get their flavor and aroma. Flavor and aroma chemicals are used in foods that you eat every day. They are safe or else they would not be allowed by the FDA to be used.
Now, the label may say natural on it but do you know where it came from? To be labeled natural the flavor only needed to be started from a plant or animal based product. It could still be produced in large scale in a laboratory and it did not need to originate from the same product. For example, vanilla flavor, aka vanillan, does not need to come from vanilla beans. Vanillan can be extracted from a gland in a beaver’s butt. This vanillan can still be called natural because it came from a “natural” source. I am not saying this is wrong. Too much of anything is life is bad for you.