There was a time when wild truffles could be found throughout the UK and Europe’s woodlands, but with the eradication of the old forests for building material, firewood and agriculture, most of the wild truffles were eliminated. In fact, today over 95% of all truffle production from France alone comes from cultivated sources.
In a recent interview with the BBC, American Truffle Company’s very own Dr. Paul Thomas discussed his plan to change the plight of black truffles utilizing the scientific planting methods he developed for farming them with the aid of suitable soil and climate. Six years ago, he started planting truffle orchards in various countries, beginning with the UK. This year it paid off with the harvest of the first-ever farmed truffle there. ATC’s truffle orchards in North America are just a couple years behind the UK and use the same methodologies.
The demand for these “black warty golf balls,” as Dr. Thomas describes them, far exceeds supply, making them one of the most valuable foods in the world. Which is why Dr. Thomas’ success in cultivating black truffles (aka “the diamond of the kitchen”) has attracted significant attention with the media and with farmers looking to diversify land usage. It’s also great news for chefs who seek the freshest truffles possible. Fresh black truffles “fill your mouth with flavor,” says Dr. Thomas, especially when used in “mashed potatoes and eggs,” also pasta, risotto, chicken, fish, cheese, bread and even dessert dishes, like ice cream and sabayon.
This is just the beginning. With dogs like Jack, Dr. Thomas will continue the hunt for the farmed truffles he’s been cultivating with truffle orchard partners around the world. The good news is that all of ATC’s client-partner truffle orchards in North America are showing healthy signs of progress, so Dr. Thomas is looking forward to harvesting the first cultivated truffles here in the next year or two.
Dr. Paul Thomas is a Partner and Chief Scientist with the American Truffle Company and is widely recognized and respected as one of the top truffle scientists in the world.