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Truffle farming


Fat Guy
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A recent New York Times piece by Kim Severson about truffle farming in North Carolina got me thinking about the difficulty of growing truffles. You'd think with modern scientific understanding of plants it wouldn't be so hard to grow a particular fungus. Yet, truffles have never really been tamed by humankind. I wonder why that is.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have wondered about this myself. Gotta be that the really smart researchers are occupied with cancer and lasers and sous vide.

Maybe Nathan M should work it out. :biggrin:

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The really smart researchers figure it out and then keep it to themselves, thus maintaining the high price and demand for truffles!

I was given the Quay recipe book for Christmas, and Chef Peter Gilmore noted with one of the recipes that Australia has a flourishing truffle industry, producing truffles that rival the imported Perigords from France. I was intrigued by this and did some very basic Googling, and basically deduced that truffle farmers do know what they're doing but they're not about to tell anyone...

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Remember gypsy moths? Killer bees? Asian carps?

Whenever a foriegn life form is artificially introduced in a new environment, you never know what the outcome is going to be.

I have this horrifying (but delicious) nightmare.

Every garden is infected with truffles, we are drowning in truffles, truffles everywhere ----- all the wooded areas have this overwhelming truffle smell---------

dcarch :-)

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I read that article too. Waiting with interest to see if they can figure it out. Truffles are one of the few foods I have not tried other than in salt and truffle oil. Truffle oil gets disparaged a lot but I must say that I have had a few good ones that give me a glimpse of what truffles must taste like when I drizzle the oil on my soup.

They were not in season when I was in Italy. Keep meaning to drive into Manhattan to try them during truffle season. On the other hand, will be kind of disappointed if they manage to farm them taking the whole "magic" out of the hunt and rarity of the whole process. I dream of being in Italy during truffle season one day.

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  • 10 months later...
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Good question.

My understanding is that truffles grow symbiotically in the root systems of mature deciduous trees. Current "farms" are having some success with chestnut, possibly oak? I don't quite remember. Belgium was, through the beginning of the 20th century, the world's largest producer of truffles - and then the war came. Groves were destroyed and people possessing the knowledge of truffle farming died. And yes, it takes decades to get one of these farms underway, so it's not at all surprising they have only started back up in the last decade.

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Here in France they tend to use hazelnut trees & green oaks.

You are right about the roots. Veronique was very careful not to damage the root as she separated the treuffle.

You can see a farm on my blog.

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