First luxury Perigord truffle is cultivated in Britain
A black Perigord truffle has been cultivated in Britain for the first time, and the scientists who announced the breakthrough on Monday said climate change could make it a new British crop.
The 16-gramme (0.6-ounce) specimen was cultivated in Wales in the roots of a Mediterranean oak tree that had been treated with truffle spores. Scientists from Cambridge University and Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd (MSL) said they also added lime minerals in the surrounding soil to make it less acidic.
A Perigord truffle can be worth as much as £1,700 ($2,200, 1,900 euros) per kilogramme in Britain. It is currently found mainly in France, as well as Italy and Spain.
MSL said the truffles’ traditional Mediterranean habitat had been affected by drought due to long-term climate change, and yields are falling. The British cultivation is “the farthest north that the species has ever been found,” Cambridge University said. Paul Thomas of MSL said: “This cultivation has shown that the climatic tolerance of truffles is much broader than previously thought, but it’s likely that it’s only possible because of climate change.” “Some areas of the UK… are now suitable for the cultivation of this species,” Thomas said, adding: “The potential for industry is huge.”
The truffle was recovered in March and found by a specially trained dog called Bella. It will be kept for posterity but the farmer can sell any future specimens to restaurants.
The results of the study have been published in the scientific journal Climate Research.