Australian truffle season is upon us! From early June to mid-August, renowned chefs and foodies of the world are rushing to get their hands on Black Winter Truffles from the “Land Down Under”.
Winter is coming...in summer!
Winter truffles in summertime? Yep, you heard it right! Because of the Southern Hemisphere’s reversed seasons, Black Winter Truffles from Australia are available in summertime for anyone living in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re too impatient to wait for “truffle season” - which typically refers to the European calendar of winter truffles - Australian truffles will be your new best friend this summer!
What about the quality?
Australian truffles are tuber melanosporum, the same variety as European Black Winter Truffles, also known as Perigord truffles, found in France, Spain and Italy. The great news? It means their quality is excellent! The only difference? They aren’t native to Australia unlike Black Winter Truffles in Europe that can be found in the wild, Australian truffles solely come from cultivation. This doesn’t change anything to the taste and aroma of the truffles themselves which stay true to the European Black Winter Truffles.
How Australia cultivates truffles
When you eat an Australian truffle, you are actually tasting the fruit of decades of research and hard labor to create the perfect conditions to grow this precious underground mushroom. Truffles can be cultivated by planting host trees (oak and hazelnut trees) that have been inoculated with truffle spores, although that alone cannot guarantee a successful harvest. The “truffiere” - French for truffle crop - has to be established in a place that has the ideal climate (temperate), soil (high PH level) and proper irrigation all year long. The first harvest does not happen before 5 to 7 years after planting the tree, so patience is key! Even when all these conditions are met, there is a bit of magic involved and truffles may simply never show, which is why they are so precious! On a smaller scale, other countries have managed to cultivate Black Winter Truffles using the same techniques such as New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina.
How should you use Australian truffles?
Black Winter Truffles are the most versatile variety! You can eat them raw, thinly sliced or grated over pasta, rice, eggs, mac and cheese or even pizza, but they also withstand the heat to be cooked in sauces. Because Black Winter Truffles traditionally grow during the European winter, they tend to be associated with rich dishes, but if you live in the USA or anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, Australian Truffles are the perfect opportunity to have a little fun and enjoy them with lighter or cold summer dishes such as crudos and tartare.