Truffles are a group of valuable and highly sought-after edible species of underground ascomycetes, or fungus, belonging to the funal genus Tuber. The French black truffle is the fruiting body of the fungus Tuber melanosporum. This fungus forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of oak and hazel trees. The edible portion, or truffle, is harvested in winter after it has matured. The French black truffle is used as a flavouring (similar to a herb) in a multitude of dishes with foods such as veal, soup, fish, shellfish, eggs game, rice, sauces, salads and much more. The ascoma, or fruiting body of truffles, is highly prized as a food. The truffle aroma is appealing and earthy, yet not everyone is able to smell the odor of this fungus. If you soak a truffle in water, the water can taste a little like soy sauce. The word truffle comes from the Latin word ‘tuber’, which means outgrowth. In the middle of the 19th century, France’s most famous gastronome, Jean Brillat-Savarin, called the truffle the ‘diamond of the kitchen’. In some parts of the world, truffles are praised for their aphrodisiacal powers. However, while this claim has not been established, the truffle is still held in high esteem in French, northern Italian and Istrian (region of Croatia) cooking and in international haute cuisine. For thousands of years the truffle has been known as one of nature’s noblest gastronomic ingredients. There are over 70 edible species of truffle. The most flavoursome is the French Perigord Black Truffle, scientifically known as Tuber melanosporum. It is the most common variety to be cultivated in a truffle orchard or Truffière.
Australian Truffle Production
Here in Australia, cultivating truffles is a unique and challenging experience. There are about 150 truffle growers in Australia and the Australian truffle season runs from mid June through to late September allowing for the supply of high quality truffles throughout the Northern Hemisphere summer.