SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian has uncovered what is thought to be the largest black truffle ever discovered in the country, a 1,511g monster that could also be a world-beater.
Mr Stuart Dunbar said he had known since February that a truffle had been growing in the spot where it was found, but its ripening aroma in warmer weather meant he started digging last Thursday.
He said he had no idea of the size of the fungus as he worked for 45 minutes to remove it from the earth at his property in the state of Victoria. "It's an absolute beast," he told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday (Aug 23).
Mr Dunbar said he had previously dug up a "beautiful edible truffle" weighing about 720g but he was not aware of anyone else ever growing such a large black truffle in Australia, or anywhere else in the world.
There have been larger white truffles but Mr Dunbar's find appears to have eclipsed a 1,277g black truffle unearthed in France in 2012 and described at the time as the largest ever found in the country's truffle heartland of Perigord.
While the find - reported to be worth some A$3,000 (S$3,094) - was celebrated, it was too big for Mr Dunbar's regular chefs to accept on short notice.
"My regular customers had already taken truffles for the week," he said, noting that once unearthed, truffles are in their prime for just four to five days.
The delicacy grows in the root systems of host trees, where in Europe specially trained pigs or dogs are used to sniff them out.
The finest black truffles have a subtle aroma and an earthy flavour reminiscent of rich chocolate.
Dunbar decided to pickle the truffle in vodka, meaning it remains preserved in one piece.
"It's certainly more satisfying to be able to keep (and show) it, than simply be saying 'I once had a truffle that was...'," he wrote on his blog.