This research project is conducted by TPWA with assistance from Fresh Produce Alliance to investigate the development of value added truffle product, processing truffle for products, shelf stability of truffle product, maintaining essential aromas and flavours of truffle product, market acceptance of truffle product.
It is funded through the Grower Groups Research and Development Grants Program which is part of the Agricultural Sciences Research and Development Fund supported by the Royalties for Regions program led by the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. The project will run until 31 March 2019.
The truffle industry is an emerging industry for the South-West of Western Australia. Production in the region is growing and in 2015 production reached approximately six (6) tonne. This represents 80% of Australian production and approximately 90% of this production is exported. Truffles grown in WA are exported to North America, Europe and increasingly into Asia. Projections for growth suggest that, based on current plantings and the regional success of orchards, production will reach 30+ tonnes by 2025.
Fresh Truffles have a short shelf life of 2-3 weeks under the best conditions and a relatively short season of three months in winter. Currently approximately 30% of high-quality product is downgraded simply because of size or appearance. This product, known as 'trim', is perfectly usable, is of high culinary value and lends itself to preservation techniques. This equates to (9) tonne (30% 0f 30tonne total production). New technologies are now available to preserve the true flavours of fresh foodstuffs in a hygienic and practical manner. This project is about applying those new technologies to the preservation and value-adding of truffles.
Research has begun in earnest at Fresh Produce Alliance and a Sensory Panel has been formed. Products are tested to determine the stability of the processed truffle in products and sensory testing of the products are conducted by the testing panel who rate the product using a set criteria.
Investigation is now being undertaken to assess when truffle (as an ingredient) is best added toproducts being tested.
The Truffle used is sourced from within Western Australia during the truffle harvesting period of late May to August, and then from Europe during their harvesting period of December to March. The truffle used for the project is Melanosporum.
Regular updates of the project can be found in the TPWA Newsletters, with the newest Newsletter May 2017 now available.