Beware the Horse Dung Fungus

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AS the Canberra Region Truffle Festival gears up for winter, residents are being advised against falling for a local imposter.

“Fool’s truffle, I call it”, said Steve Walker, head chef of Goulburn’s 98 Chairs restaurant.

Right to left: Black diamond truffle and Bohemian trufle
Right to left: Black diamond truffle and Bohemian trufle

“I have it all over my place. It looks like truffle, but it doesn’t smell good and it’s worthless,” Steve said.

“The ‘fake’ fungus ‘Pisolithus arrhizus’ is actually known in Europe as the ‘Bohemian truffle’, although in Australia it is also less-glamorously known as ‘horse dung fungus’.

“Horse dung fungus grows prominently in this area and despite being inedible, can sometimes be mistaken for real truffle due to its similar size, shape and colour.

“The key difference, apart from smell and taste, is that it grows above-ground while the sought-after black winter truffle grows underground.

“The flavour of truffles has been described as being like gourmet mushrooms. They have a distinct, pungent, earthy fragrance that gives a unique flavour and aroma to food.”

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