Truffles Unearthed

So what makes these humble-looking fungi worthy of an entire festival? Here’s the what, why, where and when of truffles in the Canberra region.

What are truffles?

Truffles are a fungus and grow under the ground due to a symbiotic relationship with the roots of particular trees (e.g. oaks and hazelnuts) infected with the appropriate mycorrhiza (literally, fungus root). They form in summer and slowly mature during autumn, ready to harvest in winter.

They can be found breaking the surface of the ground or down to 200 millimetres deep and are best located by a trained truffle dog, from the aroma released when they are ripe.

Why the fuss?

Well, they taste incredible. They can turn ordinary foods like eggs and pasta into gourmet creations, and they are very versatile and can be used in all sorts of dishes.

But it’s also the mysterious way they grow, the harvesting method, the prices they command; there are many reasons why truffles are fascinating to foodies the world over.

Where can they be found?

In the Canberra region of course, where fresh Black Winter Truffle reigns supreme.

Truffles also grow in other parts of Australia and there are booming industries overseas of various truffle species.

Who’s behind the truffles?

In the Canberra region, there are numerous farms (or truffieres) involved in the production of these highly prized gems. Turalla Truffles, Macenmist, Blue Frog Truffles and Tarago Truffles are the local farmers behind the festival, and you can visit their farms and even hunt for truffle yourself.

Just as important, but more cute and cuddlier are the truffle dogs. Hard-working and with a nose that knows, the truffle dogs are often the star of the show!

Also central to the festival are the numerous restaurants, cafes, breweries, wineries, cooking schools and sponsors who serve, market and educate about this gastronomic delight.

When can truffles be found?

These guys like it cold. The first truffles generally start appearing in late May, and the season continues to late August.

What do I do with them?

If you’ve purchased a little black morsel of your very own, you’ll be delighted with the versatility of this ingredient. Sweet, savour or even in liquid form, there are so many ways to enjoy truffle. You’ll also want to know how to store your truffle for optimum freshness.

How do they smell and taste?

It’s a very musty and sweet smell, a bit mushroomy, but with other aromas going on as well.

As to what it tastes like, some say if you hold your nose, you taste nothing. It cooperates with the flavours in the food, enhancing them and intensifying them. A steak with truffle sauce becomes meatier, eggs become a gourmet item, and the entire meal just tastes better. Why not try out some of our simple truffle recipes?

You simply must try them for yourself. Plan your Truffle Festival experience today.

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