SONG News March 2008 no. 81
In this Issue...

tapping Black Walnut trees

The tapping of the Black Walnuts to make syrup. Just like doing maple trees we tap these mature Black Walnuts for their sap to boil down for syrup. It takes a little more sap than maple to get a gallon, and the trees do not run as steady and the volume of sap is not the same.
Picture taken at the farm of Bruce and Irene Thurston at Branchton Ontario

Truffles in Canada you say
Quentin Wynn

Truffles are the fruiting bodies of a fungus that forms an ectomycorrhizal (ECM) association with tree roots. In practice, Hazelnuts and Oaks are the most commonly used tree species to cultivate truffles. The truffle fruiting bodies appear at different times of the year for different truffles. For example, T. aestivum, also known as the Summer or Burgundy truffle, is produced between July and October, while the season for T. melanosporum is generally between mid December and March. In BC, commercial truffle orchards have now been planted on an experimental basis. There are likely naturally occurring truffles also growing in many regions of Canada, which have simply not been recorded. T. lyonii or the Pecan Truffle is commercially harvested in the US and its range is thought to extend into southern Ontario. There have also been anecdotal reports of Oregon Black and Oregon White truffles having been found in parts of southern BC. These species are also commercially harvested in the US.

Truffle mycohrrizae are considered cold hardy, and should be able to survive any cold conditions that the host tree can withstand, however, given Canada's geography, it is not possible to harvest the Perigord Black Truffle in most parts of the country due to winter conditions where the ground is frozen and or snow covered. As a result, most areas would be restricted to growing the Summer Truffle, if any. Other conditions affecting growing are Soil conditions (particularly Ph), rainfall, sunlight hours, and available heat units. These factors can vary dramatically due to topography, wind conditions and other factors. Truffles are extremely valuable, garnering as much as $500-1500(US)/kg. The Perigord Black truffle (Tuber, or T. melanosporum) was originally produced in France and Italy in truffle and oak orchards on calcareous soil. Techniques for successful Perigord black truffle production have been developed, tested and shown to be successful in New Zealand, Australia, and parts of the US. In addition, other species of truffle such as T. aestivum, may also be viable in these and other areas of Canada. Recently, academics have postulated that T. aestivum and T. uncinatum, the Summer and Burgundy truffle are in fact genetic variations of the same species. Currently, the practice is to refer to these as T. aestivum syn T. uncinatum.

Prior to 2004, no truffle orchards were known to have been attempted or established in BC within a research context, although anecdotal evidence indicated that some individuals had already inoculated and planted host trees. Analysis of the climatic and soil conditions in all of the areas where Perigord truffle is successfully grown indicated that parts of southern interior and south-western BC should be suitable for Perigord truffle introduction.

In 2004, a group of enthusiastic if not adventurous fungi enthusiasts came together to embark on a journey of discovery and challenge. Their goal; the elusive Perigord Black Truffle, or more specifically a Canadian Perigord black truffle. At this time approximately 20 distinct locations in BC of varying size are thought to have been planted with both T. melanosporum and T. aestivum. Led by the boundless enthusiasm and infectious good nature of Dr Shannon Berch, a soils scientist for the BC Ministry of Forests and Range, the group formed their own not for profit society as the Truffle Association of British Columbia. As a small but friendly community it was relatively easy to find others with similar interests. A number of entrepreneurs had already established truffieres, and instinctively saw the benefit of an industry representative association. Today, the association boasts of numerous members world wide. The goals of the Truffle Association of BC are to:

In 2006, the association applied for and received grant funding to conduct a research project regarding the establishment of a Perigord Black Truffle industry in BC. The project includes developing research and presentation truffieres, as well as a Plant Health Protocol for prospective producers. Copies of these documents are available at the TABC website at www.truffles.org.

The Association is extremely active and provides members with a fall and spring meetings each year where items of interest to the Association, producers and prospective members are discussed. In fall, 2007 the Association meeting took place at the University of British Columbia campus in the Okanagan Valley. The meeting featured an update to members concerning its ongoing research project as well as a tour of the universities genetic and morphological testing facilities. These facilities will be used to test trees used in the research project as well as to test trees inoculated with truffle that are now commercially available in BC. One of the main aims of the Association is to cooperate and maintain links with other stakeholders such as the BC Hazelnut Growers Association and Southern Ontario Nut Growers Association. Threats such as Eastern Filbert Blight and Sudden Oak Death can be as devastating to both truffle and hazelnut producers and members are encouraged to be vigilant and support both agencies in identifying and controlling outbreaks.

The Association is also active internationally and in December of 2005 presented a papers at the fourth International Conference on Edible Mycohrrizal Mushrooms in Murcia, Spain regarding its research project. Truffles are now being successfully cultivated in France Spain, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, New Zealand, China, Australia and the US. We hope that Canada will soon join the list.

For more information please visit the Association's site at www.bctruffles.org.

James Budd Harvey
I was informed by his wife Judith of 21 years that James Budd Harvey had a heart attack and quietly passed away last Saturday January 12th 2008, in his 83rd year. He was a long time nut grower and SONG benefactor. He was always there for us when he was needed. Jim was always a willing helper whether it was to set up our SONG display at the Success with Gardening Show or folding newsletters for our mailings. He seldom missed a nut grower meeting. He was voted an honorary director and has served in that post for many years. His donation of $5000 was instrumental in getting the SONG book, Nut Growing Ontario Style published. He was adamant that all SONG members should have a copy of this book, that a condition of the donation was that we provide all members with a free copy of the handbook.. His wishes were honoured as all current members were sent a copy and any new members were sent one when they took out a three year membership. This decision was a selling point to new membership which continues to make SONG strong today. A shy man, he always declined a more central position in SONG but he was never shy in his support of our activities and decisions.

His farm in the country was his passion where he spent many days returning his land to a forest by planting a variety of trees including nut trees and tending them. When he was not busy with his farm, he assisted in the construction of a copy of the Avro Arrow which was recently completed for the local aviation museum. He often spoke glowingly of the work and how it was progressing. He lamented on the way the original Arrow project was terminated, ending a proud moment in Canadian aviation history.

His wishes were to have his ashes spread on his farm where he devoted much of his energy. He will be sorely missed by all those he touched with his generosity and enthusiasm. Jim is survived by his wife, one daughter Pamela, 3 grandchildren and 4 great grand children.

Noodles & Nuts

Say the words "noodles and nuts" and their rhythmical sound just might evoke the beginnings of a song lyric or bring to mind one of Ogden Nash's humorous poems. But mention noodles and nuts to people who love to cook, and images of a banquet of pastas tossed, sauced, sprinkled, or spread with nuts might spring from the right side of their brains.

Noodles and nuts come together as international combos with so many variations like pasta with pesto sauce or soba noodles with Asian seasonings. You could serve a different combination once a week and create an almost infinite repertoire of pasta and nut innovations.

Nuts add dimension to any dish, but as the focal point of a sauce, they contribute a hearty texture and pleasing mouth feel. Hazelnuts, walnuts, and almonds are ideal for grinding into a course meal in a hand-crank nut mill, while cashews, macadamias, pine nuts, and Brazil nuts can be finely ground into a satin-smooth, creamy texture. Peanuts, though technically part of the legume family, can be coarsely or finely ground, or left whole, offering yet more options. To create a definitive, chunky texture, simply break the nuts into pieces and add them when the sauce is ready.

Utilize nut butters that blend so well into creamy sauces that only their definitive flavours announce their presence. Creamed sauces provide the ideal base for a rich nut butter sauce.

Some nuts, like chestnuts, are delicious cooked and cut into halves or quarters and added either to oil and garlic sauce or one with a creamy base. Alternatively, chestnuts can be cooked until very soft and processed into a creamy texture in the blender or food processor. Thinned with a tasty broth, chestnuts become the sauce for an extraordinary pasta dish.

Explore the pasta aisle of an Asian or natural food market and discover a whole new world of noodles made from uncommon grains that bring nuance any meal. Try pastas made from spelt or kamut, buckwheat or quinoa, or rice noodles of every shape and size. Asian markets feature soba noodles made from a combination of buckwheat and durum wheat as well as others made from yam and bean threads. Many of these markets and some natural food stores sell soybean noodles in three different colours: green, black, and natural.

Choose the pasta for a noodles and nuts dish, then create a delectable, creamy or chunky sauce enriched with nuts like almonds, chestnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, or peanuts. Each of these nuts contributes a character of its own and not only adds satisfying flavour, but also creates a banquet of nutritious goodness with its high protein, high fiber, and high levels of beneficial fats.

Enjoy this sumptuous one-course meal starring almonds, vegetables, and pasta that dishes up wholesome satiety along with great flavour. The recipe will come together with ease if you prep the vegetables before cooking the noodles. You'll find the actual cooking of the veggies and the noodles takes about the same time. To complete the meal, pair the noodles and nuts with a hearty tossed salad and whole grain bread.

Noodles and Nuts
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 (14-to 16-ounce) package Japanese soba noodles
2 tablespoons organic canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (1-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 large broccoli brown, coarsely chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
I small onion, chopped
1 cup water
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar or rice vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup whole almonds
1 green onion, finely chopped
Cook the noodles in boiling water until tender, according to the package directions. While the noodles are cooking, heat the canola oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the garlic and ginger and cook over high heat for 1 minute. Add the broccoli, tomatoes, celery, onion, water, bell pepper, sesame oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Grind the almonds into a fine meal in the food processor. Add to the simmering vegetables and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the noodles and add them to the vegetable mixture, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to distribute them evenly. Adjust the seasonings, if needed. Heap the noodles and vegetables on a large platter, and garnish with the green onion.
Note: Processing whole almonds starts out at a nearly deafening clatter. You may want to hold your ears and warn anyone in the room.
Noodles and Nuts is one of the delicious recipes featured in The Nut Gourmet by Zel Allen.

Provided by SONG. Feel free to copy with a credit.