Tarago Truffles began with an initial planting of 550 inoculated oaks and hazels in 2002. Today we have expanded to a successful commercial truffiere of 4,500 trees. Owned and managed by Denzil and Anne Sturgiss and family, it is part of our small mixed farm enterprise in the Tarago-Bungendore area of the Southern Tablelands of NSW where the soils and the climate favour the cultivation of the black winter truffle.
Denzil’s dream of successfully growing the French black winter truffle (the fruiting body of the fungus Tuber melanosporum) is now a reality and during the frosty months of June, July and August we harvest and market these supreme culinary delicacies to discerning chefs and diners who enjoy fresh, seasonal foods with subtle flavours and sensual aromas.
A little about the black winter truffle
Known as Tuber melanosporum, it is the fruiting body of an underground fungus and grows mainly in a symbiotic relationship among the roots of particular inoculated trees, primarily oaks and hazelnuts. The black winter truffle has intrigued and delighted humans across the ages from the time of stone-age middens to being prized by the Greeks and later, ever present on the tables of Rome’s most lavish parties. According to Alexandre Dumas, “to tell the story of the truffle is to tell the history of world civilisation.”
Patricia Wells tell us in her book, “Simply Truffles”, that in AD 400, the first known European cookbook, Apicus, records using truffle in cooking and dining in Imperial Rome. The Romans believed “the truffle was born of thunder or lightning and was used to eradicate demons”.
In AD 1100, the Carpentras truffle market was established in Provence and is still held every Friday morning from November to March.
In AD 1892 France produced 2000 tonnes of black truffle. French production went into decline from AD 1910 for various reasons and in AD 2010, production was 30 tonnes but has improved a little since then.
Originally tuber melanosporum was found only in the wild but in recent times it is being cultivated on a commercial scale both in the northern and southern hemispheres, especially in Australia.