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A history

A history

The Finest


The black truffle is considered the finest of the edible fungi and is the fruiting body of the fungus tuber melanosporum, forming a symbiotic relationship with the roots of oak and hazel trees.

Truffles are harvested in winter once they have matured and they are at their peak after a few heavy frosts. Ancient Greeks and Romans attributed therapeutic and aphrodisiac powers to truffles. Brillat-Savarin referred to them saying they aroused “erotic and gastronomic memories among the skirted sex and memories gastronomic and erotic among the bearded sex” – you have been warned!

Although I now feel compelled to add Jane Grigson’s more prosaic comment : “A number of rare or newly experienced foods have been claimed to be aphrodisiacs. At one time this quality was even ascribed to the tomato. Reflect on that when you are next preparing the family salad.” The history and literature of truffles goes back to the early Romans. In classical times their origins were a mystery that challenged many; Plutarch thought them to be the result of lightning, warmth, and water in the soil. Times have not greatly changed and truffles remain an elusive and mysterious challenge to this day.

1600 BC


Given how long truffles have enjoyed a revered place in epicurean history, their cultivation commenced surprisingly late.

It is widely acknowledged that truffles were known around 1600 BC amongst many civilizations ranging widely from the Sumerians, Chinese and Babylonians to the Egyptians, Greek, and Ancient Romans by many different names. The Arabs named it ramek, tomer or kemas, the Greek idra, the Romans first called it tuber and then tartufo, the French truffe, the Italians tartufi, the Germans truffel and the British truffle. Whatever name they had, truffles have had a rich history, divided primarily between culinary art, culture, and literature. Shakespeare wrote of them, Rossini and Mozart enjoyed them and they became widely known after Moliere’s comedy Tartuffe. 500 years before Christ one of Aristotle’s successors, Theophrastus, thought truffles were the product of Autumnal thunder. Accompanying lighting was thought to make the thunderclaps even more beneficial. A century later the poet Nicander hypothesised that truffles were silt transformed by some source of internal heat. 150 years later Plutarch appetizingly suggested truffles were mud, cooked by lightning.

"Black truffles have been enchanting humans for thousands of years, their mystical origins shrouded in myth and legend." - Raphaella Dixon

Cultivation began in 1808 when a Frenchman, Joseph Talon, discovered that if self-sown seedlings found under existing truffle trees were transplanted to a new area, there was a fair chance that they too would eventually go on to produce truffles. In the village of Saint Saturnin-les-Apt, you can go and meet a life-size stone statue of Joseph Talon, the “father of truffle raising”. In 1847, Auguste Rousseau successfully planted 7 hectares of truffle-producing oak trees and critically, instead of keeping his technique a secret as his predecessors had done, published and went on to win a prize at the 1855 World’s Fair in Paris.

Cultivating truffles, however, remained little more than an eccentric’s hobby until the late 1860s when France’s viticulture and silkworm industries were decimated by dual pestilences.

Swathes of arable land were given over to truffle cultivation and production peaked about 1900 with the French Federation, one of the only consistent record keepers, estimating that annual production in France was 675 tonnes by the late 1800s. The first half of the twentieth century saw the previous century’s gains erased with the combination of two world wars (the First World War alone killed 20% or more of the male workforce) and mechanised warfare laying waste the truffles’ ancestral lands. Today production in France rarely exceeds 35 tonnes a year, wild and cultivated, and some year’s production has been as low as 8 tonnes.Ironically, the scarcity that once elevated truffles to rarified epicurean heights has returned to make truffles one of the more expensive foods. Australia now has some 160 commercial suppliers but growth is slow given the truffles’ lengthy and uncertain journey to harvest.

Sources: A History of Food By Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, Australian Truffle Growers Association, The New York Times Cultivating a Mystique | Jane Black, Wikiepedia, Edible Ectomycorrhizal Mushrooms | Zambonelli and Bonito, A Brief History of the Private Lives of the Roman Emperors By Anthony Blond

Steps involved in the process of our truffle to your table...

Once a truffle is located it must be evaluated for aroma and ripeness before being disturbed further. Our dogs can often distinguish between an immature truffle and a ripe one and once a ripe truffle is detected will scratch the spot but does not dig. The ripe truffle is gently removed by the Truffier with minimal soil disturbance so as not to affect next year’s production.

Excess soil is removed and the truffle is cleaned with water and a soft brush. This is quite a process as truffles have crevices in which small particles of dirt can hide and even the tiniest grain of dirt can potentially ruin them.

The truffle is brushed with vodka to ensure a perfect clean…yum!

When washing is completed, the truffles are left to dry for about an hour and then dried thoroughly with cotton cloth. Truffles must be completely dry before storage as moisture can cause deterioration.

The truffle is classified according to aroma, weight and shape.

Each truffle is individually measured and weighed before being packaged.

The truffles are placed in a bag, along with absorbent paper and then heat sealed to ensure freshness. The truffles are labelled with the weight and date packed. The package is placed in a sealed insulated box

Express posted to you…

You will receive a fresh, clean, properly graded and labelled truffle with assured provenance, directly purchased from our farm.
The timeframe involved from harvesting to posting is usually 24 hours thus ensuring you take delivery of our truffle at its optimum freshness.

A Few Tips


A few ways to store your truffle...

Remove the truffle from its packaging as soon as possible and discard the existing paper towel. Ideally, it’s best to store the truffle in the vegetable drawer of the fridge where it’s not as cold, in an airtight container lined with an absorbent paper towel.

Truffles lose moisture and weight every day so it is essential to change the paper towel regularly to ensure freshness and longevity. If your truffle grows a little white mould, brush it off under running cold water and dry the truffle before replacing it in the fridge.

Another way to store your truffle is to place it in the fridge in an airtight jar with eggs for a couple of days. The truffle will permeate through the eggshell and infuse the egg, perfect for sauces, omelettes and scrambled eggs! Or you could add your truffle to a jar filled with Arborio rice for 2-3 days to give your risotto yet another dimension and lift it to dizzying aromatic heights!

Store Your truffles in an airtight container lined with absorbent paper towels

Store your truffles in an airtight container in the fridge with some eggs

Store your truffle in a jar filled with Aborio rice for a few days to infuse the flavour