There are 160 Truffle growers across Australia commanding prices of up to $3500/kg! These Truffieres are scattered from Victoria to Western Australia.
It must be emphasized that truffle growing is not a “get rich quick” project and should be viewed as a long term investment with very specific requirements for truffle growth. Many growers have been consistently getting truffles after 4 to 5 years but can be up to 10.
Truffles are commonly grated or thinly sliced onto food or into dishes as the flavor is quite strong. Truffle Oil is also a common use. This is made by combining high-quality olive oil with freshly sliced truffles and drizzled over foods to enhance the flavour. This includes but not limited to toasted sandwiches, French fries, salad, steak pizza crust and eggs. Both Black and White truffles are available however the White truffles are proving to much harder to grow in Australia.
Being a variety of mushroom, truffles grow and mature underground close to the roots of some types of trees. Commonly used in Australia are oaks and hazelnuts which are native to Europe where the truffle originated. The fungi create a symbiotic relationship with the tree roots, called mycorrhiza, and the truffle develops from this.
Truffle harvest in Australia begins around June and is commonly done using working dogs trained for the job. Similar to “bomb squad” or “drug dogs” their sensitive noses can pick up the smell with ease.
Hot Summers and cold Winters are required for truffle development. Mean daily temperature of about 20 degrees in January and mean daily temperature of about 5 degrees in July is ideal. Some growers claim that a minimum of 7 frosts is ideal however plantations in Manjimup get almost none.
Truffles grow in free draining poor quality soils. Soil also needs to have a high pH, somewhere between 7 – 8. It is common for farmers to Lime the area to raise the PH prior to planting.
A minimum rainfall of at least 700 mm per year is required with a good rain in the summer months to set the truffles. Alternatively, if the soil and climate is otherwise suitable irrigation can be used. It’s often handy to have irrigation as a drought control and for extra watering. Not having access to irrigation could affect the harvest quantities.
Although the truffle will keep fresh in a cool environment for a couple of days, freezing is recommended if you wish to keep longer than 2-3 days. Truffle is said to aid digestion when consumed in moderation and it is believed to be an aphrodisiac!
We have many of the right conditions on our property except the rainfall, perhaps this is a niche we should try? Do you have an opinion on the fabled Truffle? Comment it.