Mixed weather boost for truffle business

The unsettled summer has left many of us feeling fed up - but the mixed bag of weather has been just the missing link needed to transform a delicacy grown in Norfolk from a clod of clay into a lump of gold.

The unsettled summer has left many of us feeling fed up - but the mixed bag of weather has been just the missing link needed to transform a delicacy grown in Norfolk from a clod of clay into a lump of gold.

Marie-Anne French, one of the few internationally recognised truffle experts, has been diligently planting, researching and nurturing the rare delicacy which she now grows in the Watton and Swaffham area.

“This year we've had a good mix of wet and dry weather. Truffles can only grow if the soil is humid. Unlike last year when it rained for a few months and then we had dry weather in August, this year, we had a good balance.”

As the expensive black truffles are just coming in season the expert, who likes to call herself French Marie, says it might look like a bumper year, but accepts that one of her best crops were in 2003.


You may also want to watch:


“It's a difficult year [2003] to beat, but this year looks reasonable as well. Nobody is putting the arms up in the air to say it's dreadful, not even the French,” says French Marie who comes from the Ardennes in north-eastern France.

She said a good crop depends on the weight, quality and size of the mushrooms.

Most Read

“It's so difficult to say what a good truffle crop is. Normally, middle-sized 20g specimens which have no holes in them are the most sought-after because they are expensive, but still, to a certain extent, affordable.”

Over the last few months she has added 150 new trees to a stock of some 800 in the Swaffham area, thanks to help from the French equivalent of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs. She said some of the trees are inoculated with the fungus and kept for research.

“We have planted 150 trees which is part of an international project,” she explained.

French Mari,e who also offers training and tips on when and how to harvest the luxury nibble, admitted to being overprotective with the truffles she grows.

“I have sold some in the past, particularly to top chefs, but I'm exceedingly selective who I sell them to. They're my babies. It's like growing puppies, you get emotionally attached and don't want to see them ending up in the wrong place.”

She said truffles start to be formed between April and June, the harvesting season for the white-sandy truffles being between mid-July to August. She also explained black truffles (black outside and chocolate dark inside) are harvested between mid-August to October.

Anyone interested to hear more from Anne-Marie French can contact her on 01953 884672 or french.marie@grosol.co.uk or visit www.grosol.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter