What are truffles?

All species of truffle (in the Tuber genus) are ectomycorrhizal, meaning they require a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the oak and hazel trees. These truffles sprout underground and attach to the roots, of these trees to get easy access to nourishing sugars created by the tree during photosynthesis. The tree gets the benefit of increased root surface area with which water and nutrients can be better absorbed. The black truffle is the fruiting body of the fungus Tuber melanosporum, of which the edible portion, or truffle, is harvested in winter once it has matured. The use of the black truffle is restricted only by the imagination of its cook.

"The French black truffle is considered the finest of the edible fungi and has a place in gastronomy alongside saffron, caviar, foie gras and the finest of wines. Widely considered as the jewel of French cooking prized for its unique flavour and intoxicating aroma" Brillat Sauarin

"The fact is that the most valuable property of the French black truffle is its capacity to flavour with its perfume any dish which it's cooked in for some time." Elizabeth David, Food Writer

Why are truffles so expensive?
You may have heard that the world's largest truffle (at 3.3 pounds) sold at auction for R3 300 000, 00 the largest sum ever paid for a single specimen of the rarified fungal delicacy. When put into supermarket terms that’s an astronomical R1 000 000.00 per pound.

Commercial cultivated truffles can sell for around R15 000.00 - R20 000.00 per kilogram and the larger finds of truffles do go on auctions and can sell for anything from R50 000.00 to R200 000.00 per kg depending on size and variety. 

Truffles are among the most expensive food items on the planet.

Because just about every truffle that lands on your plate has to be not picked but found underground by a human being, usually with the help of a specially trained Truffle-sniffing dog. 

What is a truffle plantation?
A truffle plantation is more or less the same as any other tree plantation except for the preparation of soil and the setting up of irrigation and some other finer details. The trees that are planted in these plantations are inoculated with the truffle on the root system with especially cultured inoculants and grown for the first year under very strict laboratory conditions to ensure full colonization of root system after which the tree is then transplanted into the prepared environment. Then the trees start to grow in the plantation and after three to seven years it will start producing the first flushes of truffles.
Truffle Plantation

Why grow truffles?
The price for a truffle per kilo sells for around R15 000.00 –R20 000.00 and possibly the out season product could be doubled in price if a market is manifested. Unlike caviar and saffron, truffles are extremely difficult to cultivate without the right technology that enables the grower to produce these crops. The world wide trend shows the negligence of the indigenous environment to be the root of the decline of truffle production world wide. That’s where we see the benefit in using our clean and untouched environment to produce these crops.

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