Every year we get lots of excited people getting in touch thinking they have found a truffle in their garden. Sometimes the family pet has found it, other times wildlife, such as a Squirrel has left some of it or more commonly, they found it while digging or tidying up a bed.
So far this year we’ve had a one or two finders of subterranean plant galls and, with all the wet weather, several finders of the egg stage of a fungus called a Stinkhorn thinking they had found white truffles. (For more on these, see our truffle look-alikes page). Yesterday (2 June) we had our first actual truffle find, a Summer Truffle found whilst tidying a garden border. The location is a bit of a surprise – suburban Plymouth, far from open countryside and not on geologies (hence soil types) that truffles would be expected. Plymouth, however, had had truffle finds before, but in an area with the “right” geology. Back in August 2008, a gardener found 2 kilos of them on limestone close to Plymouth Hoe (where Sir Francis Drake insisted on finishing his game of bowls as the Spanish Armada was sighted in the English Channel).
This latest find is so far of just one truffle weighing 55 grams, but the finder will look further. It was found below a Corkscrew Hazel (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) planted 8 years ago. In such circumstances, if you find one, do NOT dig the entire area over like you were harvesting potatoes, you will irreparably damage the main body of the truffle fungus, the mycelium – microscopic threads throughout the soil. If you look after the area of your garden where you found your truffles, you may well get more, both in this year and future ones. Unlike, say grapes, you don’t harvest all truffles in one go, you hopefully keep getting ripe ones every few weeks in the season (c. July – c. January). For more advice on what to do if you think you have found truffles in your garden, please see this page.
When you buy truffle trees, to give you a smoother delivery experience, we are pleased to announce that we have added what3words to our checkout page. what3words is a simple way to talk about and share locations. The system divides the world into 3 metre squares, giving each square a new, simplified address made up of three dictionary words. For example, the entrance to Blenheim Palace can be found at ///vegetable.reckons.courage. what3words provides a simple, innovative and robust way for couriers to deliver parcels right to a customer’s doorstep or desired delivery point. Postcodes and addresses often don’t lead couriers to the right place. If you live in the countryside, where postcodes cover large areas, you’ve probably had difficulties receiving deliveries to your address. That’s why we’re using what3words – so that couriers always know exactly where to deliver. With 3m squares, this means you can specify the precise delivery location, whether a doorstep or a safe place in your garden.
It means you can confidently receive your deliveries hassle-free and without giving drivers extra instructions over the phone. Simply add a what3words address at the checkout to make sure your order arrives exactly where you need it. You can find a what3words address with the free what3words app or on www.what3words.com. Learn how to find your what3words address with the app here.
This video shows how our tree couriers Hermes use what3words addresses.
We recently had to say a sad farewell to our Max. He had made it to the grand old age of 17, having retired 4 or 5 years ago as a truffle hound. He came to us aged 3, rescued from the dog pound in Dublin and was taught to find truffles at 7 when a previous dog, Bramble, retired. As well as finding a great number of truffles for sale, Max entertained and demonstrated his skills to our truffle hunting customers for many years in Dorset and then additionally in Wiltshire.
A party of guests in the below group said in their thank you email:
On behalf of the four of us , we would like to thank you and Max for a fabulous day truffle hunting! In every respect it was educational, beautiful scenery, excellent company, great food and we found loads of truffles! Max has to be the star of the show of course, we all fell in love with him! and your lovely manner, stories and anecdotes were just the icing on the cake! The great experience will always be memorable for us and we shall certainly recommend it to our friends and family as a great day out.
Our “rent a truffle hound” service is included in part of an article on truffle finds in gardens that appeared in The Financial Times’ Weekend section. You can read the article “No mere truffle: could this delicacy be growing in your back garden?” here (PDF). We get quite a few excited people having found “truffles” in their gardens. A good proportion are wrong, like a lady this last weekend who had found a lot of black plant galls and wanted to sell them. In “lockdown 1” garden tidying lead to the discovery of unripe summer truffles in quite a lot of gardens.
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.
Thank you to the guests that joined us on Saturday for our first truffle hunting experience day of the season. Their patience and co-operation in working with all of the rules and changes to make the event COVID-secure were rewarded with twenty truffles being found. Rather than the usual afternoon tea with a truffle dish, they all headed home with truffle-infused eggs and some ultra-fresh truffle.
Among the thank you emails:
Thanks again for a very informative day. I really enjoyed it and was amazed at the haul of Truffles Jack found in that small wood, truly amazing!
Thanks for a wonderful day on Saturday. Very inspiring, educational and fun.
Great to see in The Telegraph that a local pup-up restaurant, and customer of ours, that won a enthusiastic following last year, is to open permanently in October. We supplied Dorset truffles to Robin Wylde in Lyme Regis for chef Harriet Mansell to conjure up dishes such as Jerusalem artichoke, hazelnut and Dorset truffle. The Telegraph lists the restaurant as one of the 10 exciting new 2020 restaurant openings to look forward to.
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.