Black truffles (Tuber melanosporum) at the fruit and vegetable counter in supermarkets? Not for now, but maybe in the near future.
The main factors affecting truffle production are climatic variations during mushroom growth, soil pH and the presence of other competing colonies of fungi. All these factors influence the mycorrhizae, the symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a plant.
Comprehension of the mycorrhizae growth mechanisms has possible the development of a methodology to inoculate the roots of a host tree (oak, walnut, etc.). Young saplings are planted in an orchard, and then it becomes a matter of patience – waiting for truffles to grow. This may take several years.
Even though truffle production in France (with more than 20,000 growers) exceeds all other countries worldwide, 80 % of French truffle production now comes from controlled cultivation of truffles in orchards. The “recipe”, developed in conjunction with the French National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA), was soon copied and improved upon throughout the world. Australia, New Zealand, the United States (Oregon, North Carolina, etc.) and many other countries (even Canada!) are in the race and now produce their own truffles and their own local recipes.
Nothing surprising then, should one be invited to the Australian Mundaring Truffle Festival to celebrate the harvest of new local production of truffles. Even though the production of truffles in orchards is still a risky business with a large number of unkown factors, the mass production of high quality truffles is not that far off.
In the meantime, you can stock up on truffles at OGourmet, which offers more than 30 fine truffle products.