Well, not specifically Minnesota. We made that leap on our own.
But now that UK scientists from the University of Cambridge have grown black truffles in the inoculated soil of Monmouthshire, Wales, which, admittedly, is much more temperate than Minnesota, but is still by far the furthest north they have ever grown, it’s only a matter of time before we start growing them here, right?
We do love our mushrooms (the more pedestrian cousin of the truffle) in Minnesota. We have fantastic morels, and chanterelles, and oysters, and hen of the woods, etc. etc. And while there are many kinds of truffles that do grow in the North Star State, this isn’t currently one of them.
Read the published paper here: First harvest of Périgord black truffle in the UK as a result of climate change
If you’re curious, and/or don’t know, the black truffle, aka Tuber melanosporum, Périgord truffle, or French black truffle, is one of the most expensive edible mushrooms in the world. They’re currently only found in the warmer climates and rainy summers of Southern Europe, in high-calcium soil. This means Italy, mostly, and sometimes France and Croatia.
Which is why this is such a big deal.
And, even in the age of science and technology, black truffles are still foraged the old-fashioned way. Because of their unique growing habits (a symbiotic relationship with the oak tree at which they spread their fibers) they are not easily cultivated: Sniffing dogs and/or pigs are still the only way to find them.
Which is most of the reason why they’re so expensive; a 2-4 pound black truffle found in Australia recently sold for over $2,000.
They look like this:
And truly are delicious.
But what will this increase in availability mean for the black truffle’s VIP-status?
Ostensibly, they won’t be as expensive or hard to get, which means they’ll show up a lot more in dishes by chefs trying to show off their pedigree, or just having a little fun with a previously-inaccessible ingredient.
Good thing? For the average eater, yes. The uniquely funky, earthy flavor and scent of the black truffle is the real reason they’re so coveted. They’re a fantastic addition to any plate. And they’re beautiful. If they become abundant here, count us among those who will be celebrating with a plate of Fonduta Con Tartufi or Brouillade De Truffes and a bottle of champagne.
That is, until we devolve into Interstellar-like farming conditions and everyone is dusty and poor all the time and no one will give a shit about fine dining anyway. Then, and especially then, we’ll be holding our black truffles close to the chest, retreating from the world to eat in peace. We’ve already screwed things up. At least let us have this.
Of course, nothing about this is actually funny. Nor an actual benefit of climate change, as the World Health Organization will be the first to tell you that the overabundance of certain foods as a result of a warming/changing climate will do little-to-nothing to offset the damage done by staple foods that will no longer be available:
“Rising temperatures and variable precipitation are likely to decrease the production of staple foods in many of the poorest regions. This will increase the prevalence of malnutrition and undernutrition, which currently cause 3.1 million deaths every year.”
For people to whom black truffles were always only a luxury anyway.