A Red Hill couple grows high-quality truffles for eight months of the year.

On the green slopes of a fertile ridge running down to the headwaters of Stony Creek at Red Hill, 70km south of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula, lies a forest. A forest where truffles grow. The French call it a truffière. In it are rows of Spanish holm oaks, English oaks, cork oaks, pin oaks and hazelnuts, their roots inoculated with the spores of different varieties of European truffle fungus. 

From late summer to late winter, the different types of truffles grow and start to form black lumps that range in size from golf ball to small fist. “These are the reproductive part of the truffles fungus,” says Jenny McAuley. She and her husband Michael planted the first trees on her family farm in 2005. They now have over 2500. “The truffles are packed with a myriad of aromatic compounds,” she says. “We train our English Springer Spaniels to sniff out the ripe truffles.” 

Jenny and Michael realised that living on a relatively small farm of 12 hectares, they would need to add value to their truffle crop. They developed truffle hunts as a tourism product for the truffle-loving public and sell a range of truffle pastes and truffle-infused products. 

The McCauleys have also invested in different varieties of truffle. While winter-fruiting black truffles are the backbone of their business, summer truffles and autumn-producing varieties have extended their season to over six months. The aim is to produce fresh truffles for eight months of the year. 

The team produces over a hundred kilograms of truffles every season, selling 50 per cent directly to the public via the farm gate stall or to people attending their truffle hunts. The rest is sold mainly to local Mornington Peninsula restaurants or made into fresh truffle products such as truffle butter, truffle paste and truffle honey.

Produce: Black Winter Truffle, Summer Truffle, Burgundy Truffle, Italian Summer Truffle, truffle hunts, truffle products