June 3, 2016
Every winter, the Canberra region becomes truffle-obsessed with degustations, hunts, wine tastings and cooking demonstrations. But just what makes this highly prized ingredient so special?
The rare Black Winter Truffle is one of the most prized in culinary circles. The climate around the Canberra region is ideal for Black Winter Truffles as it is similar to the climate in Europe where the truffle originated.
Each year from the beginning of June until the end of August, The Truffle Festival – Canberra Region marks the harvest of the Black Winter Truffle with the ultimate foodie festival. This year’s festival features more than 250 individual events across the region, offering a rich variety of opportunities to taste and experience the magic of these prized gems.
To celebrate this magical season, here are some fascinating facts about the truffles you can taste in Canberra:
Much like an underground mushroom, truffles have spores and form a mutually beneficial or symbiotic relationship with a host tree.
“Truffles are a glutamate, hence their added ability to enhance flavour.” – Wayne Haslam, Blue Frog Truffles
“Most people don't realise that black truffles go really well in sweet dishes where they take on a cocoa vanilla flavour, especially with any desserts containing dairy and eggs.” – Rodney Dunn, The Agrarian Kitchen
“There are thousands of native truffles in Australia but few are of culinary value.” – Wayne Haslam, Blue Frog Truffles
The most prized species of Australian native truffles in culinary circles is the Black Winter Truffle also known as Perigord Truffle. These grow best with host trees like oaks and hazelnuts.
“The Canberra region is home to more than 80 native species of native truffle.” – Wayne Haslam, Blue Frog Truffles
“Interestingly, truffles require the ground temperatures to drop to a certain level a number of times just before they ripen. In our region this temperature drop results from frosts and about six decent frosts are necessary to really bring the truffles to maturity.” – Christine and Allan, Pankhurst Wines
The truffles give the tree nutrients from the soil and in return receive sugars to help with growth. Truffle spores are spread when animals that can smell the aroma dig up and eat the fruiting body.
“There has never been a recorded allergy to truffles.” – Wayne Haslam, Blue Frog Truffles
The truffles mature over the 12 weeks of Australia’s winter but only remain fresh in the ground for 12 days. Finding the right truffle and digging it up is all about the timing – and a good truffle dogs’ nose.
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