Farmers and foodies welcome the harvest of the much celebrated black truffle.
The ‘black diamond’ as it is known only has a short season and can be found at local farmers markets. For the more adventurous you can participate in a traditional truffle hunt - a foodie experience to remember!
New to Australia, truffle farming is becoming increasing popular around the country and is quickly being known for quality truffles comparable to that of the Perigord region in France.
What are Truffles?
Truffles are a sub-terranean fungus grown amongst the root system of certain trees such as oaks and chestnuts in a symbiotic relationship. They are roundish and lumpy in appearance, and as they mature they develop white veins on the inside which look like a marbling effect on the black truffle.
Truffles start to form late Summer and are ready for harvest in Winter. Whilst preferring cold Winter climates including a few frosts and hot Summer days, it is a combination of climate, precipitation and soil which make for the perfect growing environment. In Australia many farmers add limestone to the soil to adjust the PH to the desired level.
The Truffle Hunt
Traditionally in France the truffle is hunted by a pig, however in Australia it is a trained dog who sniffs out the intense aroma from underground.
During harvest, the dog will walk along the rows of trees until it is stopped by the ripe and powerful truffle aroma, allowing the farmer to dig for the prized truffle. Some are found close to the surface whilst others are up to 15cm deep.
It is said that one of the signs of a successful crop is when the trees have formed a large dirt ring surrounding the truck where the grass has died. Known as a ‘brule’ this burning effect is caused by the fungus spores as they mature.
Truffles in Australia
Truffles have been harvested from Northern Tasmania to The Yarra Valley, the Otways and parts of Gippsland in Victoria, the ACT, the Southern Highlands and Oberon / Bathurst regions in NSW and Manjimp in WA. Approximate 4.5 tonnes of truffle were harvested in Australia in the past year.
One small earthy truffle weighing 100g will reach an incredible retail price of around $250 to $300.
By: Edwina Volz
For more information, visit www.localmarketguide.com.au