Australian grown black winter truffles

Hartley Truffles. Blue Mountains. NSW.

Hartley Truffles are grown in the Blue Mountains, central west NSW. This is only 2 hours west of Sydney. The cold winters and the warm summers are perfect conditions for growing the Black Pergiord truffle, Tuber melanosporum.

Hartley Truffles was founded after Jane and Richard Austen’s trip to south western France, the origin of the Tuber melanosporum or ‘Black Perigord’ truffle. Inspired by what they learnt they decided they would attempt to cultivate truffle at their family farm in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.

After some years of research and preparation they planted their first 400 oak trees in 2007, with the second planting of another 400 oak trees the following year.  Now 9 years on, the 2 different oak trees are producing some beautiful black truffle.

Hartley Truffles is a family affair with their 2 border collies, Maggie and Koko, hunting the truffle down with their granddaughter helping harvest and grade the truffle.

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What are Truffles?

Truffles are a fungus which grow in a symbiotic relationship with suitable host trees, commonly oak and Hazelnut.  Truffles occur naturally in the forests of Europe and in recent years have been cultivated in soils typically modified by the addition of lime.  The seedling roots are inoculated with the truffle spore and planted out into prepared soil.  As the roots spread and the tree grows, the truffle grows with them.  The truffle fruit forms in late spring, grows through summer, and ripens with the onset of winter frosts and is harvested in June July and August.

As a serving suggestion for truffle, a minimum of 3g per person for an entrée plate would and about 5g pp for a main plate.  As a guide, a 50g truffle is about the size of a large hen’s egg.  Truffles are a flavour enhancer and are best initially served with simple dishes involving eggs, mushrooms, chicken, pasta, potatoes, risotto, or Jerusalem artichokes. Truffles have a great affinity for fats and starches which retain their exotic aroma.

Shave truffles as thinly as possible, as the greater the surface area exposed, the greater the aroma of the truffle.

Truffles are best stored in the refrigerator in a large, sealable glass jar, each wrapped in paper towel (change daily) to prevent them getting wet, as they lose moisture (and weight and aroma) continually and are best used within 2 weeks of harvest..

Remember, truffles are seasonal and fresh is best.

Like many exotic flavours, it can be an acquired taste, umami, generally nutty, but taste is 90% aroma.  The aroma defies explanation, but can you describe the aroma of other exotic spaces?  Sniff the spice cupboard?  A crushed, unpeeled garlic clove?  Old socks?  Saddles? Molasses?  Damp leaves and the earth?  Sweet compost?  Forest floor?  Floral – Musty and Sweet?  The aroma has been isolated by chemists and synthesised, fooling everyone as ‘Truffle Aroma’, which is the basis of all truffle oils and tastes nothing like fresh truffle.

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