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Truffles in NZ

The varieties of truffles found in NZ are Burgundy (summer truffle), Bianchetto (early autumn through to winter) and Melanosporum (premium winter truffle – most well known in France).

Although the different species have broad similarities there are many significant differences between species including where and when they grow, size, colour, appearance, aroma, taste, use and commercial value.

There is no denying truffles are expensive, their cost though is part of the attraction, making them a sought-after luxury commodity. You can use truffles on your menu with some smart thinking and making the most of these luxurious black diamonds.

Make the most of your truffles with multiple uses - store them for 1-3 days with your rice, polenta or eggs. The truffle will infuse its aroma and flavours into the dry good, giving you two bites of the pie (or polenta chip!).

With the ends of your truffle, make truffle butter or aioli, perfect for steak topping, stirred through kumara or mash, or topping skinny fries.

Choose an inexpensive dish such as risotto, polenta, mash etc. to keep food costs down while still highlighting the truffle. Or go the opposite way and play up the exclusivity with pairings with other luxury ingredients and wine match for a stand out feature on your menu.

Fresh truffles can last up to 20 days if refrigerated and good care is taken. Best use is within a 10 – 14 day period. Store in a glass jar if you are not infusing product with them, as they need to be kept dry. Have a paper towel in the jar to absorb moisture. Allow it to breathe once or twice a day, replacing the paper towel if it has become damp. Ideally store in a controlled temperature between 2 deg – 4 deg, freezing is not recommended!

Dining out is an experience, and truffles allow you to play to this. Pop them on display in a glass dome and shave fresh truffle over a dish in front of the customer. This gives not only the opportunity to increase the spend, it also acts as a great social media opportunity!

If you’re new to truffles and need help – your Bidfresh team are here to help!

Unearthing Excellence

In the heart of the Eastern Bay of Plenty, which regularly boasts the most sunshine hours per year in New Zealand, lies Braemer Estate, home to enthusiastic truffle growers Adrian and Julie Collins. Their story is not just about cultivating; it’s a testament to a 14-year dedication, to quality production and a true passion for truffles in NZ.

As artisans of truffle growing, they meticulously craft each truffle with care and precision before it hits the market. The quality systems they have in place, ensures each truffle is nothing short of perfect, cleaned with great attention to detail and packed at its best – means that when these nuggets of joy are received, chefs can create delicious dishes with confidence.

Timing is crucial in the world of truffle cultivation. Adrian and Julie – and Gentleman Jim the dog and truffle hunter – refrain from harvesting until the first week of June, strategically avoiding the supply of under-ripe truffle and any risk that may compromise their excellent reputation for producing a quality crop. Each truffle is lovingly inspected during the season on firmness and aroma. If there is any doubt about the quality, they don’t send it out.

Behind every successful truffle hunt lies a loyal companion, and that comes with Gentleman Jim, their faithful companion. Jimmy is no ordinary dog. He cannot be bribed with standard doggy biscuits or play. Jim’s reward for brilliant detector work is in the form of countless words of encouragement (even humans need this!) and a smorgasbord of treats. His nose is “calibrated” at the start of each season to ensure he only indicates on perfectly ripe truffle. Calibration is performed by human checking of the intensity of truffle fragrance in the soil and splitting some sacrificial truffle to confirm the black colouration of its internal flesh.

Jim now looks forward to the beginning of each season eager to please his owners by walking the rows of hazelnut and oak trees in search of the mysterious and desirable black diamonds.

For true truffle taste delight, Collins’ favourite recipe is truffle poached eggs. Half a dozen eggs are packed in an airtight container with a ripe truffle for three days. The aroma of the truffle penetrates the porous shell, and the subtle truffle flavour intensifies in the egg yolk. The ‘trufflised’ eggs are poached to perfection. A little raw truffle is shaved on to this simple but satisfying dish, before serving. This delicious mealtime is cherished by the whole family during the truffle season.

Unearthing a Passion

In 2002, Ian Treloar and his wife Clare planted just under 500 English oak and hazelnut

trees with roots inoculated with spores of melanosporum, French black winter truffle, and dressing their little block of land with 90 tonnes of lime to get the exact soil pH required for truffle production.

It was a labour of love for the pair, but today, atop the hills in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Clarian Truffière is a heaven of earthy treasures cultivated by the hands and hearts of Ian and Clare Treloar. Their journey from rural upbringing to truffle connoisseurs is a testament to unwavering passion and dedication for truffles in NZ.

Ian’s roots in farming the lush landscapes of Whakatāne instilled in him a deep appreciation for agriculture – something which is evident in the succulent vegetable garden near the entrance

of the stunning truffiére. For some, this might seem like a leap, but for Ian, it was a natural progression fuelled by a desire for a retirement venture intertwined with his lifelong passion for homegrown produce. With a thirst for knowledge, they delved into understanding the nuances of cultivating these elusive fungi.

But the pair’s vision extended beyond mere cultivation; they wanted to bridge the gap between NZ truffles and culinary artisans. Collaborating with Bidfood, they forged relationships with chefs, sharing insights on the optimal uses of these culinary gems. Bidfood’s support not only facilitated market access but also helped ensure that only the finest truffles grace the tables of discerning chefs.

The harvesting season, a culmination of months of anticipation, is a joyous affair for Ian and Clare. As they unearth each truffle, accompanied by their beloved dogs Jenga and Nemo, the thrill of discovery reignites their passion each time. Even their granddaughter, endowed with a remarkable nose for truffles, eagerly joins the hunt – and is known for being one of the best truffle hunters!

Ian fondly recalls the delight of witnessing people finding their first truffle, a moment that encapsulates the essence of their journey. Meanwhile Clare's culinary passion finds expression in simple yet sublime creations for family and guests.

Their advice for truffle explorers? Keep it simple. Let the truffle speak for itself, enhancing dishes with its unparalleled aroma and flavour. After all, the true beauty of truffles lies in their ability to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary.

In the serene expanse of Clarian Truffière, Ian and Clare Treloar have unearthed not just truffles, but a legacy of passion and culinary delight. As they continue to persevere bringing the knowledge and experience to the NZ market, they are creating an aromatic path for the next generation.

Ian’s favourite dish is using truffle butter mixed through creamy mashed kumara alongside a hearty slow cooked meal, or a sliced cheese wheel with shaved truffle then infusing over 3 days and served alongside an elegant antipasto platter.


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