You read correctly… there are actual places where you can source, hunt and forage for truffles in Britain… Surprised? I was! All around our land there is an abundance of places where those shy truffles are hiding, and all you need to find them is a little information, a ‘hunter’ and some sheer determination.
They Taste Like Earth?!?
Commonly known as ‘black gold’, truffles are a cook’s dream! Prices are high due to the rarity and the time needed to harvest and find them. The main truffles present in Britain are black truffles and similar to the truffles that grow in France and Italy. Prized for their culinary value, black truffles are most definitely as expensive (pound for pound) as the likes of saffron, cardamom and even vanilla! Whenever I hear people talk about their taste, it always seems to centre around a peppery/garlic/earthy subtleness that can be infused with your food. Sound good?
Why Truffle Hunting?
Okay, so I have to admit, I’m not a fan of mushrooms or any type of funghi really – it’s probably the one type of food that I will typically avoid. The texture, the ‘fluffiness’ and the earthy taste always makes me put my fork back down on my plate. Sorry ladies and gents 🙁 This being said, there is something special about truffles and I really do love the idea of hunting for them. It’s a little bit like fishing – lots of waiting and watching until – pow – you found one!
Where Are English Truffles Hidden?
There are many places to find truffles in Britain; from Dorset to Wiltshire, all along the south coast and even as far north as the Peak District National Park! Of worthy note as well are the forestries in Hertfordshire, Gloucestershire and Cornwall. In truth, the best way to locate truffles is to find some local oak, beech, hazel or birch forests and hope for the best!
Remember it’s important to find a forest and not just one sole and lonely tree – truffles don’t grow under vegetation, which you might find around a solo tree. This is why you need a forest as vegetation is less likely to grow in these conditions.
If you are unsure, head to a truffle specialist that knows all the details and secret hiding places. The English Truffle Company offers the opportunity to learn from the very best at their West Wiltshire site.
How To Hunt For Truffles…
The hardest part of all! Truffles, of which there are two varieties in Britain (tuber aestivum and tuber uncinatum) are very rarely visible from the surface as they tend to grow on the roots of trees – thus requiring a little light digging. Remember that truffles hate water so if it has been particularly wet, it can be possible to see some truffles peeking up from the surface of the forest floor. Easy, right?
One of the best ways to find a truffle in Britain is with a dedicated and specially trained ‘truffle hound’ – these dogs are trained to follow the scent. Don’t worry too much if you don’t have the patience to train a hound for a few months – you can actually head out on pre-arranged truffle hunts that make matters slightly easier.
Bring a small shovel, a little basket and a lot of patience and you may well find your very own truffles to eat and enjoy!
How To Cook with Truffles
One of the easiest ways to use your newly discovered British truffles is to pair up some extra-virgin olive oil, infused with a little grated truffle. This can be used on salad, corn, pasta dishes and even potatoes and eggs.
If you want a stronger truffle-tasting dish, why not thinly slice your truffle into a homemade risotto or pasta. Always remember to let your truffles sit within the dish for a good 30 minutes before eating – this makes sure a large portion of the flavours becomes infused with your meal. Just remember to never mix your truffle with highly acidic food – this will stifle the flavour and your truffle hunt will have been a waste! Arghhhhhh!
If you decide to buy or hunt your own truffles, why not try this tasty recipe of Fettuccine with portobello, porcini & black truffle that looks so delicious!
Can You Truffle Hunt In London?
Unfortunately, there are little to no opportunities to truffle hunt in London – unless you find some funghi under an old railway bridge – yuk! 🙂 If you are serious about truffles – why not head to Borough Market, where there is an opportunity to smell, choose and buy your very own. Just take lots of pocket money! Every time I go to Borough Market I always indulge… and I’m guessing you probably will too! 🙂
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