Every inner-city foodie looks for them peppered throughout the menus in their favourite brunch cafes and high-end restaurants, but how are Australian truffles grown? Baking Business speaks to Leonie from the picturesque Truffles of Tasmania about how these valuable and sought after nuggets are grown and harvested.
Tell us a little bit about Truffles of Tasmania:
Truffles of Tasmania is situated at the foothills of the Great Western Tiers in mid-north Tasmania. The pristine property has magnificent views down across the valley. There are approximately 22 thousand trees over an area of 50 hectares. Truffles of Tasmania commenced in 2001, which was when the first planting was carried out.
How are truffles grown and harvested?
Black Truffles (tuber melanosporum) are grown on the roots of English Robur, and Spanish ilex trees. Truffles grow during the summer months when the ground is warm. Once summer has ended the truffles then lay dormant until winter when the very cold temperatures help ripen the truffle and produce the distinguished pungent aroma that truffles are renowned for.
We have a team of hunters with their dogs that go out into the trufferie during the winter months to locate the aromatic aroma of the truffle. Once located by the dogs, the truffles are carefully removed from the ground then taken back to the grading facility where they are washed and graded, ready for packing and sending off to chefs and truffle lovers around the world.
Farm manager Mark Bowerman, along with his partner Julie Donohue, spend numerous hours throughout the year preparing for the new truffle season each year. Trees need pruning after each season, ground prepped for the upcoming growth of new truffles, correct amount of watering throughout the year, mowing to be done, and dogs to be trained along with prepping and organising for the commencement of the new season harvest each year. Mark and Julie are definitely seasoned truffle farmers.
What are the challenges of growing truffles (in Australia/Tasmania)?
The biggest challenge of growing truffles in Tasmania is the weather as we need really hot summers to put the heat into the ground for truffles to grow. Unlike the mainland, there can be times that Tasmania doesn’t get the required extreme heat in summer for the truffles to grow, which in turn affects the amount of truffles out of the ground.
Have they grown in popularity since you started?
Yes, we have definitely noticed the popularity of truffles over the years. In earlier years we had to find chefs to use truffles; now they find us. There has been many years where we cannot keep up with supply—which is a good problem to have compared to the early years.
How much do you produce each season?
Each season can vary as it all comes down to the weather leading up to the winter months.
Where does your produce go, mostly?
Our Truffles are sold throughout Australia to chefs and private foodie truffle lovers. We also send internationally to clients in Asia, the UK and USA. Though we have found that the demand for truffles within Australia has grown over the years.
What are truffles primarily used for?
Truffles are primarily used in and on dishes based on eggs, cheese and dairy though not limited to wherever your imagination leads you.
What is the best way (in your opinion) to consume truffles?
Simplicity is the best way to use truffles, shaving liberally over your favourite egg dish, over your freshly cooked pasta or favourite Risotto. Nothing can be more simple or popular among foodies and truffle lovers than a cheese and truffle toastie.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Out of truffle season we also have a demand for our Freeze Dried Truffle Granules, Truffle Powder and our blend of Black Truffle and Pepperberry Salt; all made without any preservatives or additives and using only the black winter truffle (tuber melanosporum).