In our 15th year of truffle hunting we had a very special day yesterday – in a truffle orchard in the home counties we found our first Périgord truffles! Also referred to as the Winter truffle or, simply “the black truffle”, these are the best and most valuable species of black truffle and are usually cultivated in countries with a Mediterranean climate, such as such as Spain, France and Italy.
Over the years we have found many thousands of summer / autumn truffles (Tuber aestivum var. uncinatum), the majority growing wild in woodlands of southern England and also some cultivated in truffle orchards where we have been hired to search for truffles. The trees in most British truffle orchards have been inoculated with truffles of this species as they are native to this country and well suited to our climate. A much smaller number of truffle orchards in this country are attempting to grow the Périgord truffle (T. melanosporum). When I first started truffle hunting experience days in 2013, I said they would never be cultivated in this country as it is not warm enough. However, with a warming climate, I was proved wrong in March 2017, when a truffle farmer in south Wales who was already successfully growing summer / autumn truffles, found Britain’s first Périgord. This was closely followed by finds at an orchard established by the Duke of Edinburgh and several others. The owners of this orchard join a fairly exclusive club!