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Grow Your Own Truffles ~ by catherine

Grow Your Own Truffles

Usually one thinks of collecting truffles as a solitary activity carried out in secrecy at dead of night. However it is now possible to buy trees already inoculated with truffle spores. 

Contrary to common belief commercial cultivation is nothing new.  Truffles have been cultivated since the 1800s and reached a peak in France in the late 19th century.  Large tracts of land were freed during this century by the spread of the fungus phylloxera which destroyed many vineyards.  Also, the French silk industry collapsed when disease killed the silk worms, making mulberry trees redundant. 

It was only with a shift of population from country to town, and the devastation of the First World War that cultivation on a mass scale declined.  In recent times, Australia and New Zealand have been successfully cultivating truffles.  It remains to be seen whether it takes off in this country.

Truffles are, of course, a fungus and “ectomycorrhizal”, that is they are found in association with plant roots, and have a symbiotic relationship with the trees they grow under.  The first cultivation of truffles was achieved in France by planting acorns from an oak that was known to have truffles growing at its roots.  Truffles prefer oaks, beech, hazels or poplars, and like sun and a moist, alkaline soil.  You will have to be patient though – it takes 5-8 years for them to start fruiting.

Although truffles are associated with France and Italy (Piedmont), there are many different varieties that grow all over the world.  They do grow wild in this country too, and the most common is the white, summer truffle (not to be confused, however, with the white Alba truffle from Italy which commands such high prices but cannot be grown here unfortunately!)

Despite its reputation as a luxury food, French and Italian peasants associated the truffle with famine.  As the food writer, Elizabeth Luard, explains in her book, truffles were a cash crop.  The peasants who collected them only ate them in times of war and hardship, when the market had collapsed.  They were used to flavour a pot of beans when no meat was available.

Having planted your inoculated tree and watched it grow, how do you find your truffle?  Trained dogs are preferred to pigs because they don’t root and are less likely to eat what they find!  Alternatively, some people say all you need is a stick to disturb the flies (there is a variety of fly which is particularly associated with truffles) and watch where they fly up.  A disturbance in the earth where they have swelled is another sign.  Good hunting!

Posted in: Flora & Fauna, Practical Guides ~ On: 4 April, 2008

101 comments so far

sarah
5 July, 2018

Catalin I would like to discuss a proposal if you are still looking for a UK collaboration? How do I contact you please?

Rob Taylor
13 May, 2018

Back in the 1979 whilst thinning large beech from a wood on the South Downs I accidentally discovered a small black truffle

Michelle Clarke-Stables
12 November, 2017

Hi
I’ve recently bought a house with land in Bulgaria. When I was there I saw truffles being transported and have read they grow well there. Can anyone give me any advice on this please or where to buy the trees with spawn to plant over there.

Thanks
Michelle

Catalin
28 August, 2017

Hello!
We are a company that deals with the harvesting of truffles in Romania, with a capacity of over 300 Kg / week, the meadow truffle in summer and autumn.

We are interested in a distribution in England, a serious collaboration. We have a frigotechnic car, so we can transport weekly anywhere in Europe.

We hold official and originating documents, as well as sanitary authorizations. Truffles are delivered at a common price for all categories.
Best Regards

charlie
10 July, 2017

hi just asked if anyone could advise me on getting truffles onto my new oak trees, any suggestion please we are on facebook (amys diner feltwell) thank you

charlie
10 July, 2017

hi I have a lot of year old oak trees in pots,They will be planted out in the autumn. I would like to get them to produce truffles, Please can you tell me how , the best way to do it, many thanks

Thomas
11 April, 2017

Hi All,
If anyone wants to check if they have truffles on their land in summer truffle season (late summer – Autumn).
I have got a truffle dog which is based in Kent.

said
6 December, 2016

hello every body. we here in Libya north Africa we have white truffles looks like that in Italy the deference only due to soil structure and minerals our lands are less in minerals . any person who want to study our truffles we may send hem a small amount of dried white truffles in UK .really i trying to grow such truffles in Libya and i hope to export the production . thank you .

Joanna
4 September, 2016

Marco,my husband and I are also looking into getting some inoculated trees on a few acres in Ireland.

We should link up: [email protected]

scott
4 August, 2016

hi I’m about to buy lagotto pup to train as a truffle hunting dog once trained can you make money from hiring the dog out to find truffles

Penny Odell
1 July, 2016

Would a Hazel tree grow successfully in a large pot if the soil in Cornwall is not suitable

Cookie
16 May, 2016

We have a south facing acidic area of land in the south of England. We are interested in producing truffles. The ground already has 50 silver birch and various other species growing. Will we need inoculated trees and can we buy these from Italy or France

Geeta Pendaer
11 May, 2016

I am in the process of purchasing land in Abruzzo, Italy, which has a woodland bordered by a fresh water stream running along the land from the Gran Sasso mountains. I have been told that truffles were cultivated on this piece of land, which spreads over 11.4 hectares.

I am interested in continuing/starting to cultivate truffles on the land and would like some advice and appropriate trees. There are currently, mainly oak trees within the woodland along with fig trees and many other trees, which I could not identify.

Please could you advise us with the best way forward.

Kind regards

Geeta

French Marie
24 September, 2015

White truffles do not exist except as an immature specimen. Mushrooms also as an immature specimen can look like a white ball….

Questions to ask yourself:
Q:- how deep in the ground was it? a)ball completely out, b)just a peeping through, c)completely covered? d) top 5-10 cm deep ? e)or was it on a branch, completely out of the ground?
A: Truffles grow on mycorrhiza that itself grows on tree roots- not branches. There are many thousands of species of hypogenous fungi which are not truffles that live in the top 5 cm of the soil.

Q:- look at the deepest part: are there any filaments as a bunch that you can see without magnifying glasses? (that will be opposite where the dog touched the fungi, or your tool touched the fungi)
A: the filaments are 8 microns thick, so you cannot see them with the naked eye.

Q: What does it look like inside if unripe? (once cut into 2)
A: The ball of fungi, whether ripe or immature can be irregular, have a skin, and the body should be marbled, even white it is marbled white. There is no hint of gills or stipe, there is no sign of ‘top’ and ‘bottom’

Q: Can it be identified?
A: immature specimen cannot be identified as identification is through the morphology of the mature spores.

People have asked me to identify ‘galls’ as truffles, fungi like mushroom because of the apparent white ball….which was not a ball afterall.

A truffle may grow quickly and burst out of its skin (very rare!). The skin will reform within a matter of days. So-called white truffles are not white at all but yellowish, smooth skin, inside ochre marbled when ripe.

An unripe truffle is worth nothing at all. It is illegal to sell these on European markets.
I hope this helps.

suzanne rutter
23 September, 2015

Hello., I have been walking in Spain and found some truffles…they are white ..how can I get them correctly identified.
thank you in advance

Nicky Baxter
19 September, 2015

Hi Christine, for naturally occurring truffles in the UK the beech tree is without doubt the most prolific but Dolly and I have also found them under oak, birch and hazel including hazel hedgerow. As we are based in Somerset Kent is probably too far for me at the moment although it could be possible later in October. However if you contact trufflehunters dog school they may able to recommend an “advanced dog” who is closer to you. Good luck.

Christine
19 September, 2015

Thank you Nicky what type of trees are best suited. Would you and Dolly be interested to have a “nose” around. I live near Meopham in Kent

French Marie
17 September, 2015

Of course you may already have truffles, but they are not everywhere. The ecology is very complex for truffles to be brought and successfully grow in an area. I was on an outcrop of chalk near Cambridge, growing truffles but never found them anywhere else within 20 mile radius of public land.

If you want to introduce them, please use inoculated plants with an independent certificate. You can go to a french market and see regulated plants on sale. In the UK there is no certification system. Italy and Spain also have some, but the further north you buy, the better the plant and inoculum will do well. I chose to collect my seeds, and inoculum…all UK sourced. Our climate is different.

Nicky Baxter
16 September, 2015

Christine, depending on what kind of trees In your wood you may have truffles there already. Have any trained truffle dog looked for you. There are a number around including my own Dolly. Good luck

Christine
15 September, 2015

hi I’ve got 7 acres of mixed woodland and open meadow situated on chalk on the North Downs in Kent I’d like to try to introduce truffles an anyone help point me in the right direction

French Marie
15 September, 2015

That is great. I had truffles under birch trees too and very large ones but there were too close to the surface and were attacked by larva.

Julia
14 September, 2015

I just found some in a suburban environment popping outside of the ground by a birch tree.

French Marie
5 September, 2015

Yes Tim I think I did your email, the question was the same as on this blog, so I answered here.

The good thing about Great Britain is that the Royal Horticultural Society claims that it has 52 % alcaline soil. Even if it does not sit on a chalk outcrop , there are many chalk drifts dating back to the glaciers. There are maps of the geological details in some areas. Buying land to plant inoculated trees is complex. I have done it and it took me 3 years, and a lot of money. Sometimes you just cannot get the details, you just have to do it by walking. There are many factors to consider, not just PH.

And I did succeed very well as I was told by scientists I took around Norfolk looking at natural sites and my plantation, a week ago. The soil and solid geology can change every 10 m or less…

This type of service is done at a fee by a few. It is too late to do it after you have bought the land! Quite a few asked me after the event…and they are not pleased when they find out that I would not recommend it for all sorts of different reasons!

Bear in mind that truffles are very fussy, you can have mycelium, but no truffles….you may have to wait 15-20 years, lucky if you have some at 6 years. There is a lot of work involved in keeping the right environment to encourage it to ‘flower’ as it were, and for the trees to grow enough foliage and root systems.

For further details, send me an email.

tim22
4 September, 2015

And where is the general consensus as to the best area in the UK for truffle growth?

tim22
4 September, 2015

Hi Marie – I sent you an email – did you receive it?

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