Australian truffles are a kind of subterranean fungi that usually grows on broadleaved woodland on calcareous soils. It commonly grows on France and other parts of Europe but it is now growing widely here in Australia. The traditional way of finding truffles is by using pigs to hunt them, but these days well trained dogs are extensively used to perform the task. The smell of truffle can sexually arouse female pigs, and sometimes may accidentally bite the hands of their handlers out of mere desperation to get them.
Truffles have long been associated with luxury and decadence. A French writer, Alexandre Dumas claimed that “truffle awakens erotic and gourmand memories that make a women more tender and men more amiable”.
There are two varieties of Truffles – black and the rare white truffle. The black truffle variety are called Tuber Melanosporum and were initially found in the Perigord region of France. They generally grow in cold weather localities at the base of oak trees from September to December. Black truffles usually sell at the price point of $400.00 per gram. The rare white truffle or Tuber Magnatum was originally found in Piedmont Italy. There are other white truffles found in Italy but the one from Piedmont are more aromatic and its price is much higher as compared to others. The piedmont white truffle sells for approximately $2,200.00 per gram.
For the centuries that have passed by; France and Italy have dominated the global truffle market. But in the New World era, Australia has been putting its name on truffle map.
To date, Australia is the fourth largest truffle producer in the world, but the first truffle plantation began in Tasmania in the early 1990’s. Tasmanian Truffles were not only the first to produce black truffles in Australia but also the Southern Hemisphere. They have various truffle orientated products available to purchase via their website.
The Terra Preta Truffles are grown by husband and wife team, Peter and Kate Marshall. They grow their truffles on their farm at Braidwood in New South Wales. The couple aims to be a world player and produce the best truffle in the world. They have been growing fungi for the last thirteen years but it has only been three years that the quality is good enough for export quality. They export in countries like Hong Kong, Japan, China and even France.
The Truffle and Wine Co. in Manjimup, Western Australia has been producing black truffles that taste equally or more superior than truffles from Europe. They even offer rather unique truffle hunts.
World renowned chefs are going crazy with Australian truffles nowadays. The quality of truffles is judged by their ripeness, aroma and shape. The best truffles have been known to sell for up to $2,500.00 per kilogram. The growing season of Australian truffle differs from the European rival. They dominate the truffle market from June to August. In recent years truffle production in this country has constantly been increasing by 20 to 25 per cent every year.
How to Grow your Own Australian Truffles?
Growing your own truffles can be a dream for many of us. But the journey to produce them is not an easy task at all. It needs a lot of time as well as a lot of money. There are over 160 commercial plantations in Australia but not all of them are producing truffles. Bear in mind that the truffle business is not a get rich quick project, it’s a long term investment that may or may not yield in return. Here are the basic requirements to grow your own truffles:
To produce truffles, it requires hot summer temperatures and cold winter temperatures. A temperature of 20 degrees in January and about 5 degrees in July is the desirable climate.
Truffles usually grow on free draining poor quality soils with a pH level of 8 that contains plenty of micro nutrients. It is better to have your soil tested before proceeding with the planting process.
Irrigation / Water
Truffles initially were grown in forests, growing on lime stones with no irrigation as such. With this in mind, a minimum of 700 mm rainfall per annum is the favourable volume during the summer time. It is important to drought proof your trees at the early stage. Furthermore, a constant supply of water is needed afterwards. Research shows, that over watering or no watering can both make an impact on truffle quality.
Oak and hazelnut trees are important to determine the quality and quantity of the produced truffles. The trees health can be determined by some truffle experts and it is better to use certified trees.
Growing truffles can be a personal pleasure or for profit purposes. It might sound a bit hard to grow one but it’s very rewarding. It’s an exciting prospect and the truffle industry is undoubtedly gaining traction in Australia.
How to Store Truffles at Home?
Truffles lose moisture and eventually its weight continually. Store them in a refrigerator as you would do with fresh mushrooms. Wrap each of them with paper towel to prevent them from getting wet. If you find a white mould, brush it off under cold running water and dry the truffles first before placing them in the fridge.
Store them in Rice
One way of prevent the flavour of truffles from imposing upon surrounding items of food is by storing them in rice. It also helps protect the truffles from exposure to the air. Having said that some people don’t like the idea of keeping truffles in rice because it has been known to affect the quality.
Store them in Oil
Fresh truffles can be stored in neutral flavoured oil. Oil is an excellent barrier against air exposure and preventing the loss of moisture in the truffles. The truffles will infuse a little of its flavour into the oil – providing you with a homemade truffle oil.
All about Truffle Oil
Truffle oil is a modern wonder on the culinary stratosphere. It is used to incorporate the flavour and aroma of truffles to a dish. Beware of fake truffle oils, in reality truffles oils are not actually made of truffles. Instead they are a synthetic product that combines various aromas and flavours to be able to create fake truffle oils. Before purchasing, carefully check the label and look for the words “infused with truffles”.
Cooking with Australian Truffles
Truffle are loaded with flavour and aroma so when you cook with truffles do not over complicate the situation. Mix or top it in cooking risotto or pasta and you’re done. Just bear in mind that truffles should not be combined with ingredients that are high in acid, because it will subside the flavour of truffles. Always add truffles towards the end of preparation and allow the magic unfold.
Popular Dishes with Truffle Oil
Truffles infuse their aroma and flavour into everything around them. They blend well with ingredients that are submissive and agreeable to its flavour. Truffles pair ideally in dishes like risotto, artichoke soup, crispy duck egg salad, pasta, scrambled eggs, baked cheese, panna cotta, poach eggs and mixed salad among other dishes.