Many people are surprised to learn that truffles can be found growing wild in England. This is not a recent discovery; from the late 17th century until the 1930s, truffle hunting was a cottage industry with the main centres in Wiltshire, Sussex and Hampshire. Those involved were often farm labourers, woodsmen or shepherds, who turned to truffle hunting in the autumn and winter. With their dogs, they searched beech woods for truffles to sell direct to customers and to middlemen who sold them at Covent Garden in London. Some also provided entertainment for the gentry and their country estate guests.
For a variety of reasons, the “last professional truffle hunter” retired in the 1930s, his knowledge going to the grave with him. Starting in about the year 2000, there was a re-birth of the of the industry and its growth has continued to the present day. In this new article on the history of English truffles, we look with particular reference to Wiltshire, Sussex and Hampshire, the reasons why truffle hunting almost died out in England, and finally, at the re-birth of the English truffle industry.
Journalist Rob Crossan recently joined us on one of our truffle hunting experience days and wrote about it for Departures Magazine and www.departures-international.com, the magazine and accompanying web site for American Express® international Platinum Card® members. You can read about his day here.
An article “English truffles: the hunt for black gold” has recently been published on the official Berry Bros. & Rudd Blog and will shortly appear in their editorial magazine. Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, having traded from the same shop since 1698. They hold Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.
Sworn to secrecy, we took content writer Emily Miles to a woodland in southern England with our trusty hound and found a good number of truffles. Here she saw the dog at work and learned all about truffles, truffle hunting and the truffle business and was entertained with stories of stately homes, butlers, truffle crime and more.
Today we took a writer for Berry Bros. & Rudd truffle hunting. Berry Bros. & Rudd is Britain’s oldest wine and spirit merchant, having traded from the same shop since 1698. Today the company also has offices in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, a Wine School and an exclusive fine wine and dining venue in London’s St James’s. We are honoured to hold two Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales. The writer is producing an article for their magazine, a twice yearly publication dedicated to wine, spirits and the art of good living.
Sworn to secrecy, we took her to a woodland in southern England with our trusty hound and found a good number of truffles. Here she saw the dog at work and learned all about truffles, truffle hunting and the truffle business and was entertained with stories of stately homes, butlers, truffle crime and more. We will post a link to the finished article on our media coverage page.
We’ve just completed from a three day “truffle road trip” searching in four planted truffle orchards and four “wild” woods across Southern England. The photo shows the best truffle of the trip – a 200g Autumn Truffle. Finding truffles in new locations always adds to the experience. One location was some trees we have driven past many times thinking there ought to be truffles there – yes, I was right! The last was a bonus, an unexpected site found by accident looked perfect and it was!
Every year we get a number of people who have found what they think might be a truffle in their garden. In about half of cases, unfortunately, it is not a truffle but one of many look-a-likes. Often they are found while they are digging the garden, though in many cases, they have been dug up by animals such as squirrels. We can get two or more truffle finds in some weeks so it is not that rare an occurrence. The latest find was of one small, and still unripe, Summer truffle in a garden inside the M25. The owners found it on the their lawn near some holes and assume it was squirrel that had dug it up. Their garden is a fairly average suburban one but has the mix of some of the trees that truffles can grow with, in this case Birch, Beech and Hazel, as well as the right soils – alkaline, free-draining over chalk.
We are starting to get a few early reports of dogs accidentally finding Summer Truffles in southern England. They are still unripe with little flavour or aroma – it’s too early. They are best left in the ground if you can persuade Fido.