Following the August 2014 announcement of South Africa’s first ever commercially grown black truffle (Tuber melanosporum) in the Dullstroom area of Mpumalanga, the Western Cape can now lay claim to also having grown its very own specimen of this expensive fungus.
SA’s latest truffle find was made on Altima Farm, owned by business tycoon Johann Rupert, and one of the properties within the Anthonij Rupert Wyne (ARW) portfolio.
According to a statement issued by ARW, it took six years of careful nurturing by Altima’s managers, Coenie and Hanene van Dyk, for the black truffle to be grown.
The Van Dyks’ Jack Russel terrier Clyde reportedly sniffed out the 200g truffle in one of the inoculated oak trees on Altima. Truffles grow below the soil surface and the volatile organic compounds they emit act as a potent herbicide in the vicinity of where they grow, leaving bare patches of soil, or a brulé.
“In the future, the orchard will be monitored on a weekly basis until the end of the winter harvest season. This will be done by Clyde and his fellow furry companion, Bonnie, who will be joined by Zippy, the farm’s latest addition,” said ARW’s statement.
The SA Chefs’ Association previously told Farmer’s Weekly it was very excited about the news of black truffles being discovered in the country. These fungi add a unique flavour to meals, but are an acquired and expensive taste.
Professor Alessandra Zambonelli, a truffle expert from the University of Bologna in Italy, also previously told Farmer’s Weekly that in her home country black truffles could sell for as much as €2 000 (R28 626)/kg.
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