Time to sniff out the fancy fungus

Black magic: Flavours and aromas vary between regions.
Black magic: Flavours and aromas vary between regions. Photo: MCT

It's truffle season, and there are plenty of ways you can incorporate a little truffle magic into your life. They're grown widely across Australia, and you can buy freshly harvested truffles for about $35 for 10 grams.

1. Make truffle butter

About 10 grams of black truffle will truffle about 250 grams of butter. Finely chop the black truffle until it resembles grated chocolate. Mash 250 grams of good-quality butter until soft. Add chopped truffle and combine until it's evenly mixed through. You can add a dash of truffle oil if desired. Shape the truffled butter into a log and wrap in baking paper. Keep refrigerated. Slice off discs of butter to garnish a beautifully cooked steak, stir the butter through pasta or have truffle butter on toast. Use within five days.

2. In potato mash

Mash steamed potatoes to the desired consistency. Using a stick blender, add truffle oil and truffle butter (above) to taste, and work through the mash until dispersed evenly. Garnish with finely chopped truffle and a little truffle oil. For an extra touch of decadence, make like a French chef and serve your mash in a copper saucepan. Voila!

3. Scrambled eggs with truffles

Take two eggs per person and lightly whisk with a dash of full-cream milk. Heat a heavy cast-iron pan over medium heat and melt a disc of truffle butter, coating the pan. Pour in the egg mixture and add two more discs of truffle butter. Cook the eggs gently over low to medium heat, gently folding the mixture in from the outside to the inside of the pan as it cooks. Take off the heat before the eggs are cooked right through, as the mixture will keep cooking for a short time in the pan. Serve on thickly cut toast with truffle butter. Garnish with fresh black truffle finely shaved over the top of the eggs. Heaven.

4. Truffled mushroom risotto

Using one cup of the arborio rice in which you have been storing your truffles (see right), make a white risotto base using your truffle butter instead of oil to sweat the onion, two litres of chicken or vegetable stock and half a cup of white wine. While the risotto is cooking, chop four to six swiss brown or large field mushrooms into chunky slices and set aside. Shave 10 grams-15 grams black truffle and set aside. Finely chop 10 grams of black truffle and set aside. Just as the risotto is nearly cooked, add the finely chopped truffle and stir through. Add the mushrooms to the risotto mixture and gently stir through. Serve the risotto piping hot in flat bowls, garnished with shavings of black truffle and some finely grated pecorino. Serves four.

Tips on storing truffles

Truffles emit moisture as they age, so they need to be stored carefully to prevent rotting. The best way to store truffles is to place them into a storage container filled with uncooked arborio rice, together with a few uncooked eggs. The container should be stored in the fridge. The eggshells are porous and will take up the truffle aroma and flavour within a day or two. The rice, too, will absorb the aroma while keeping the truffles dry. You can cook the eggs and replace them with new ones every few days. The rice will make a delicious risotto.

Fresh truffles will keep this way for at least two weeks. But left in the open they will go mouldy within days, and left unprotected in the fridge the will go mouldy after about one week. The key is to keep the truffles as dry as possible.

* According to Sara Hinchey, aka the truffle hound: trufflehound.com.au

Truffle events in July

The Truffle Hound will be holding truffle-cooking workshops on July 6, 7, 13 and 14 in Princes Hill, $115 a person. For details, see trufflehound.com.au

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Madame Truffles' annual pop-up will be open from July 4 until August 10 at 20 Yarra Place, South Melbourne (St Ali next door). Stop by to buy fresh truffles from Western Australia, Tasmania, NSW and Victoria. Each region produces truffles with distinct aromas and flavours, and people will once again be able to sniff out the differences for themselves. Contact: truffles@madametruffles.com.au

Whisky and truffle tasting Madame Truffles partners with Whisky and Alement Bar on Saturday, July 20 (270 Russell Street, city). Bookings: info@whiskyandale.com.au or 9654 1284.

Family-friendly truffle dinner In partnership with St Ali and chef Andrew Gale, Madame Truffles will host a truffle dinner for the whole family. Saturday, July 27, St Ali South (12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne). Reservations from July 1, contact St Ali South (9686 2990).