And now for something completely different: a man with a stoat through his head. Nonono, not that. Instead, a thing from the garden:
It is, or so I understand, a truffle. Or rather two. I found them while mowing the front lawn on Sunday. This was somewhat unexpected. And indeed, I might not even have found them had I set the lawnmower to "high" instead of "low". Here's the ground they came from:
That's one; the other is equally uninteresting. The ground doesn't obviously satisfy the truffle-bearing criteria. There are tree roots around, true, including hazel (no oak in the front) but there is more plum than anything else. The soil is fairly dry right now but was very wet a week or two back.
Anyway, it makes a pleasant change from the pols. I've given fragments to two friends who have French connections and therefore know what to do with such things.
Well, now we can be sure that pigs have wings.
They say truffles with scrambled eggs are extremely delicious, but I have never tasted a truffle. My only gustatory luxuries are that each morning I eat a Washington state Red Delicious apple and one single Medjool date from California. The photo above of the truffle broken open on top of a right-hand glove looks really neat!
Looks like Tuber aestivum, also known as the summer truffle, or Burgundy truffle (which is what I call the ones we grow down here). Not ripe. You need to leave them in the ground until they begin to smell (which I guess will be 4-8 weeks). The flesh will be a hazel/coffee colour and the aroma will be strong and pervasive when they're fully ripe. They are excellent eating, and sell for a good price. You might trading them for meals at your favourite French restaurant... ;-)
The likely host tree is the hazel. Next year, if garden aesthetics allow, mulch that area with leaf mould and water copiously in spring and you should get more. They can be very productive - we get 8 to 10kg a year from 13 trees on 100 m2.
[Thanks for that, and subsequent. I shall be more vigilant in subsequent years. I still haven't eaten any myself, but am distributing pieces -W]
Re eating: store ripe truffles in a sealed container lined with paper towels in the warmest part of the fridge, with eggs. The eggs will absorb the aroma and become delicious. Make scrambled eggs, shave truffle over. Serve with good sourdough and a robust red wine. Truffles go really well with fats like cream and butter because lots of the flavour compounds are fat soluble: so try carbonara with truffled eggs. But my favourite is to buy some really good Brie de Meaux, slice it open and make a truffle sandwich. Leave for 2-3 days, then enjoy with the best pinot noir (aka Burgundy) you wish to afford.
PS: I've also done the mower thing. Mowed the top off $400 worth of truffle, even though the mower was set on high. :(
Gareth knows what he's talking about ;)
That's great though, and what a fun find in the garden no less! And if you have a dog to train (even a pet dog) go for it!, there may be more around in a month or so, and next year ;)
[I shall pay more attention to my front garden. And there are plenty of hazel in the back, too -W]
Out of curiosity (no truffle eater I), are these entirely wasted then?
Steve; essentially, yes. You could eat them, by poaching them in something nice (I tried champagne once), but unripe (with white flesh) they have only a mildly mushroomy sort of taste. Once ripe, they're aromatic enough to perfume everything in a fridge. Which may, or may not, be what you want...
Of topic, but I don't know where else to ask this.
The RealClimate site seems to be down. Do you know whether your previous colleagues are suffering from Trump, hackers, or have just given up?
[It is still supposed to be up. I've asked The Appropriate Authorities -W]
[11:48: back now; archive.is for proof -W]
I should check round those hazels at the back! And if you know someone with a truffle dog, that will help a lot. They don't always stick out of the ground...
The English truffle dogs I know of are in Wiltshire, but I could put you in touch with someone who might be able to help. There are quite a few truffle growers in the U.K. these days.
[AFAIK there are no truffle dogs around here, Cambridge not being notable for that sort of thing :-) -W]
W Thanks, it has come back soon after I asked :-)
[A not-quite-flawless server move, I understand -W]
Try adding a bit of gypsum- not enough to acidify the soil- around the hazels.
Hopefully a bit will end up as the methyl sulfide backbone of the ripe truffle's aroma
> [AFAIK there are no truffle dogs around here, Cambridge not being notable for that sort of thing :-) -W]
Email me: I know someone who may be able to help...
(And I wouldn't add gypsum!)
[That all sounds like taking this a bit seriously. BTW, we ate some last night, raw. They don't taste nearly as strongly as they smell -W]
But I would check the soil pH in case Gareth's friend shoud ask. Troves of truffles are reported , improbably, from the much euro-transplanted parks of the Bronx !
Interesting that you found it where you did, but I agree with Gareth it certyainly looks like Tuber Aestivu. Maybe you could get in touch with https://www.thetrufflequeen.com she certainly knows her stuff.
Apparently this chap also sound some lesser spotted truffle -
under an oak tree in a garden in Devon
>But I would check the soil pH in case Gareth’s friend shoud ask.
Soil pH is certainly important - most of the culinary truffles need high pH, but aestivum has fairly wide edaphic and climatic tolerances. It's found everywhere from Scotland to Morocco and France to Korea.
>Troves of truffles are reported , improbably, from the much euro-transplanted parks of the Bronx !
Christchurch (NZ) trees produce loads of porcini mushrooms (Boletus edulis) - one of very few places in the southern hemisphere to do so - because they arrived on the roots of trees imported from England during settlement. As far as we now, truffles didn't perform the same trick!
A Daily Mail story about a truffle find which, improbably, gets everything wrong - unheard of for that publication...
[Ah, the Fail -W]
This bunch are probably more relevant to your circumstances than any Aussie truffle queen: http://www.englishtruffles.co.uk They do dog hire, too...
[Thanks for the link. Interesting that they sell hazel trees, not oak. As for the dogs... I kinda feel this was pleasantly serendipitous, and wouldn't want to push it -W]
Tuber aestivum will form relationships with quite a few species of tree, but hazels and oaks (Q robur especially) are the easiest to inoculate in nurseries. This bunch will sell you both (and other kinds of truffle): http://plantationsystems.com/shop/
If you have truffles pushing up through the surface, there will be others near or below the surface that will be difficult to find without a dog. You could wait a few weeks then crawl around the garden on your hands and knees sniffing hard. Might work... But we'll expect photos.
[The front garden is not large so crawling around it possible. I have a daughter, if not a dog -W]
On the Internet, nobody knows you're a truffle hound.
What may the neighbors think on seeing a child methodically sniffing the ground ?