Luxurious white truffles could grow in British forests after a breakthrough by French scientists, it has emerged.
The £2,500-a-lb delicacies are frequently described as the finest on the planet, and may soon be being produced across the world rather than just their traditional home in Italy.
Chalky, wet regions are said to be ideal for truffles to develop, meaning large parts of both Britain and the United States, as well as areas such as France and Spain, could soon become fertile ground for the fungus.
Luxurious white truffles could grow in British forests after a breakthrough by French scientists, it has emerged
Locals claim adding white truffles and butter to tajarin pasta makes the greatest dish
The £2,500-a-lb delicacies are frequently described as the finest on the planet, and may soon be being produced across the world rather than just their traditional home in Italy
Officials said a batch of white truffle oak saplings has been brought to the UK in an attempt to produce Tuber magnatum pico – the most prestigious and expensive variety of truffle known – within the next ten years.
Joël Giraud, France’s minister for rural life, hailed the breakthrough as an ‘extraordinary development’ and a ‘great innovation’, as he told the Times: ‘The mere mention of this product recalls the most delicious gastronomic memories.’
Tuber magnatum pico, which grows mainly in Italy and in the Balkan peninsula, is the most expensive of the 180 varieties of truffle, selling for some €5,000 a kilogram.
Locals claim adding white truffles and butter to tajarin pasta makes the greatest dish.
Truffles develop underground by the roots of certain trees such as oak, willow, poplar and hornbeam.
Farmers have searched forests for the fungi for centuries, often using a dog or a pig trained to pick up its pungent odour.
In France, generations were spent unearthing Tuber melanosporum, the so-called black diamond, believed to be the world’s second most valuable truffle, but availability dwindled from around 1,000 tonnes a year in 1900 to just 35 tonnes at the turn of the millennium.
Researchers tried to grow them their own way, by introducing truffles into oak saplings, which are planted in orchards.
The hope is then that the fungus will grow by their roots, and while it tends to be far more efficient than embarking on random hunts in rainforests, it has not always proved successful.
Italian scientists have been trying and failing to use similar techniques with white truffles for decades.
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