How to choose the perfect truffle product
It’s truffle season in Australia, which means it’s all about truffles at Queen Vic Market!
From fresh, Australian truffles to rich truffle oils and cheeses, get your truffle fix on Market days, or at the Truffle Melbourne Festival held at the Market this June.
To mark the occasion, three of our expert traders share with us their best tips to make the most of the sensational truffle products on offer at the Market and tick-off this must-do culinary experience.
What are truffles?
Truffles are a rich, aromatic ingredient often used to enhance the flavour of everyday dishes, such as risotto, pasta and even cheese toasties.
A type of fungi, truffles are like an ‘underground mushroom’, growing among tree roots.
Fiona Macali of The Epicurean deli says the choice of tree used in the farming of truffles can influence its flavour profile. The truffles found at The Epicurean are grown in Western Australia on walnut and oak tree roots.
And while there are hundreds of fungi that can be classified as truffles, we’re probably most familiar with two common types: black truffles and white truffles.
White truffles are more aromatic and are often shaved raw on top of a steaming plate of pasta, risotto or scrambled eggs. Whereas black truffles have a milder, earthy flavour and are better suited in sauces, oils and cheese.
How to choose the perfect truffle?
Queen Vic Market traders are dedicated to bringing quality, premium ingredients to our customers. To do this, they source fresh truffles from the best truffle farmers across Australia and bring them to you at the Market.
So, how do you choose the perfect fresh truffle?
It’s all about the smell, according to Rocco Tripodi of Queen’s Harvest.
“It’s part of the whole thing. It’s about the smell as much as the taste,” he says. So, keep a nose out for the rich, strong scent when looking for fresh truffles.
When starting out on your truffle journey, Rocco recommends using smaller truffles. Due to their short shelf life, fresh truffles should be used as soon as possible, and smaller truffles produce less food waste.
Kon Kardaras of Big Vic Deli says to look for the integrity of the product, where it’s harvested and when it was harvested to ensure freshness and the best shelf life possible.
“When it comes to truffle, you’ve really got to go to people who know what they’re doing and know how to handle it,” he says.
Truffles are prone to ‘sweating’ and can lose a lot of weight through evaporation, so look for truffle that has good ridges and a decent weight to it. Withered and wrinkly truffles are a sign the product is old or of low quality.
“You want to be able to clearly see the ridges in the truffle,” Fiona says, who flies in fresh truffles weekly. “They’re bumpy and ugly, but you don’t want any dirt residue in the truffles. They need to be plump with nice ridges.”
If you have any questions or need a hand picking the best truffle, ask our traders – they’re always happy to help!
How to choose the best truffle oil and truffle cheese?
The Dairy Produce Hall is filled with a variety of truffle products, from infused truffle oils to truffle Himalayan salts and sweet truffle honey.
When it comes to choosing a good quality truffle cheese, it’s all about balancing flavours. The earthy truffle flavour should complement the cheese, not overpower it. Look for truffle ‘veins’ through the cheese instead of flecks of truffle. This creates the perfect blend of truffle and cheese.
For Kon, it’s all about the provenance’ or where the product comes from. His focus is on high-quality truffle products from trusted suppliers and offers a range of truffle oils, salsas and cheeses.
If you’re just starting out on your truffle journey, Fiona believes it doesn’t have to cost a lot to try good quality truffle ingredients. Kon recommends starting with a small truffle oil (around $12) or truffle salsa (a mix of truffles, mushrooms and truffle oil for around $25). Small bottles will also be used more quickly than larger bottles, ensuring the oil keeps its potency (which can fade over time).
Need a hand choosing which truffle oil or cheese to use? Visit Kon or Fiona in the Dairy Produce Hall for their advice.
“We’re foodies,” says Kon, who also has industry experience working with truffles in restaurants. “We have exposure to the product, but we also understand how to best use it.”
How to cook with truffle
For an easy, three ingredient afternoon snack, try Fiona’s truffle cheese melt.
“One of my favourite things is to shave truffle Manchego cheese onto buttered bread, then toast it and add a drizzle of honey. With a cup of tea in the afternoon, it’s beautiful.”
Fiona also says to “read, read, read!” Looking up different truffle recipes will give you an even better idea of how to choose the right truffles for cooking.
Rocco’s top tip for making the most of fresh truffle and elevating any egg dish is to store fresh truffle in a container with a couple of fresh eggs, allowing the flavour and aroma to infuse into the egg. When you cook the eggs (however you like them), add a few shavings of fresh truffle on top to really make the most of the fresh truffle.
“It’s a handy way to get good value out of your truffles – you get truffle eggs without really using the truffle. And it adds an extra element to the dish, a little bit like chilli.”
Kon agrees truffle adds a luxurious dimension to a pasta, scrambled eggs and risotto, but some truffle products shine best on their own.
“With something like a truffle salami, you just enjoy it on its own.” Try adding some truffle salami to level up your charcuterie board.
Find all the truffle ingredients you’ll need in our truffle season blog.
Find out more on the Queen Vic Market Ultimate Truffle Tour
Explore a range of truffle cheeses, salami, honey, infused oils and more on this special truffle trail through the historic Market food halls and learn more about all things truffle.
Bookings are essential, click here to secure your spot!