The chill of winter has well and truly set in, which means it’s time for truffles! Canberra is fortunate to be surrounded by prime truffle-producing areas that foster a season of deluxe festivities and gourmet events.
Wayne Haslam is the owner of Blue Frog Truffles and has been involved in the Capital Region Truffle Festival since its beginnings in 2009. This year the festival will support the local not-for-profit Southern Harvest Association, a farmer-led organisation that works with Canberra region producers to create a vibrant local food community.
“We really appreciate the opportunity to work with Southern Harvest. It’s the perfect home for us because really we’re just another group of primary producers,” Wayne told Region.
“This gives us an opportunity to spread a message that truffle season is a great way for any food and tourism business to attract customers in what can otherwise be a quiet time of year.”
Canberra is ideally located for truffles within a climatic zone that is very similar to the truffle-producing regions of France and Italy. Wayne says that having a major capital so close to where the truffles are produced is unusual, giving Canberra another winter tourism attraction.
Truffles were introduced to Australia in the ’90s. Since then, we’ve emerged as the fourth-largest producer. While many truffles produced in the region are used locally in restaurants, there is also a strong export trade because Australia’s truffle season occurs during the off-season in Europe.
“We produce about 20 tonnes of truffles in Australia, but only consume about 5 tonnes locally, so we knew from day one that it would be an export crop,” Wayne explained.
The season depends on the year’s climate conditions, but generally starts close to the winter solstice and runs for around two months. Truffles grow underground in a close relationship with specific trees like oak and hazelnuts.
Wayne explained that the ideal climate for a truffle is a hot summer to encourage fruiting, followed by a cold winter. So far, this year has had excellent growing conditions, so they expect a bumper crop.
The season’s festivities are spread out over the two months of harvesting, with many restaurants, wineries and local foodies getting on board with special events and truffles to their menus.
Anyone hosting a truffle event is encouraged to submit the details of their listing to the Southern Harvest Association for promotion. Wayne encourages any local chefs who are interested in using truffles to reach out to one of the many truffle growers in the region.
Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.