Hunting for Truffles
Gippsland truffle grower, Noel Fitzpatrick, takes us on a journey through his winter truffle harvest and demystifies the world’s most expensive fungi.Content information
- Jun 07, 2018
No other ingredient evokes such mystery and allure as the truffle. A subterranean fruiting body of fungi that grows on the roots of specific trees, truffles are revered for their intoxicating aroma which has seduced cooks for thousands of years. The distinctive savoury flavour and aroma of truffles can be described as earthy and musky with hints of garlic, parmesan and even chocolate.
Australia grows 3 varieties of truffle, with the most prized being the French black truffle, Tuber melanosporum also known as the ‘black diamond of the kitchen’. Winter marks the beginning of the notoriously short, black truffle season in Australia, which runs from early to midJune right through to the end of August.
Truffle grower and industry leader, Noel Fitzpatrick has been cultivating French black truffles, along with the lesser known Summer Truffle variety, on his south Gippsland property since 2007. During harvest time Noel will walk through his plantation of 500 trees once a week with a truffle dog whose has been trained to sniff out fully matured truffles. Once identified, Noel will get on his hands and knees and start to very slowly and carefully unearth the truffle, which he likens to ‘An archeological dig.’ Once harvested the truffles are cleaned, graded and delivered all over Australia using cold storage.
Dedicated to sharing the joys of fresh truffles with a wider audience, Noel says that with as little as 30g you can create a beautiful dish for 4. Some of his customers also get together and form truffle co ops to buy larger quantities for special occasions: ‘People throw winter truffle parties to celebrate the short season. Groups of friends will all put in $20 each and come together to have a special dinner party where everyone cooks a different truffle dish.’
Due to their intensity, when cooking with truffles less is more, and Noel explains that from just 1 truffle you can be rewarded with multiple meals. ‘Truffle aroma attaches itself to high protein fatty foods, so truffles can be used to infuse eggs, brie, salt and butter. Then you’re still left with most of the truffle to use in a special dish.’
Discover the heady flavours of fresh truffles here
● Truffle Harvest Gippsland
Try these great truffle recipes from Noel:
Black Truffle Risotto
Ravioli with Truffle and Walnut Cream Sauce
1 Truffle, 5 Ways