French Black Truffles

Truffles have been grown under a veil
of secrecy across parts of Europe for centuries.
They have an aroma or fragrance which continues
to fascinate food lovers across the world.

A symbiotic relationship forms between the tree roots and the soil resulting in the truffle fungi developing.

Scientists have established that the black truffle (tuber melanosporum) exudes up to eighty different components which produce its very unique aroma.

This fungi is recognized as one of the world’s agricultural treasures. If we are to emulate French production of the truffle, we would expect a tree to produce the fruiting body for at least 100 years. As the tree’s root system grows, there is an expected increase to productivity.

The truffle is a healthy food. It contains no fat, and has a high water content. It is recognized as a vegetable product which is high in essential minerals and trace elements. The history and literature of the truffle goes back to the early Romans.

During the medieval period, the Church excluded the truffle from celebratory feasts, believing it to be the embodiment of evil. Following the French Revolution however, the truffle was recognized as “the most delicious of foodstuffs,” and one day of each year was dedicated to a celebration of the truffle’s virtues.

The truffle varies in size from 2 cm. in diameter to the size of a grapefruit, with the average size being the size of a golf ball. The outer layer of the truffle appearing crusty, and is black in colour. It’s appearance indicates nothing of its true value.

 The Truffle Industry

Toward the end of the 19th century France produced up to 1000 tons of black truffles per year, primarily in the southeast and southwest of France, where the climate has extreme heat in the summer, and very cold frosty winters, combined with dry days.

There has however, been a decline in truffle production in Europe. The causes for this decline are many including abandonment of land cultivation; destruction of trees to make way for urbanization, planned de-forestation and acid rain.

Research over the past 50 years has now opened the industry to commercial growing

The climatic conditions in Canberra parallel with the south of France, where truffles grow naturally. With the careful selection of a suitable location, quality tree stock, and good management of the soil, Canberra is now enjoying an emerging truffle industry.