What Is Next Growing Truffles In Oklahoma?

Truffles, subterranean mushrooms, are said to be rarities.

They have been found mainly in France, England, and Italy for hundreds of years and have been considered a strictly European delicacy. Pigs and poodles there have been trained to sniff out truffles so they could be dug and sold.

TrufflesPin

In 2021 white truffles will cost over $4500 a pound.

Decades ago in Tulsa, Oklahoma, truffles were growing in Mrs. Charles Connors’s suburban garden.

It was hard to believe that’s what they were, for Bailey’s Cyclopedia of Horticulture describes them as practically confined to the European continent.

But in Tulsa, it was learned that as early as 1899, truffles had been collected under trees and shrubs in Placer County, Calif., by a man named Harkness.

California Harkness Species

The Connors truffles were sent to C. R. Benjamin, principal mycologist, Crops Research Branch of the National Fungus Collection, Beltsville, Md., where they were found to be the same as the California Harkness species, Tuber candidum.

Wrote Benjamin: “So far as I know, this species has never been reported from Oklahoma, although it has been found in eight or ten other states.

It is edible but not common enough to be of economic importance. Your specimens and other known species in the U. S. are fairly close to the European varieties.”

He also said he would like samples of truffles from various states to add to the National Fungus Collection.

The story of the discovery of the Connors truffles had its humor. Mrs. Connors had been finding truffles for many years when digging in her sweet potato patch.

Being a dedicated gardener who threw everything vegetative into her compost pile, she had accumulated truffles there that went merrily ahead, propagating themselves instead of decomposing.

Truffle Protruding

One day a friend who was a mushroom authority chanced by and, seeing a truffle protruding from a flower bed recently filled from the compost, bit into the truffle, so sure was she that it was edible.

Wherever compost had been used as a top dressing for flower beds, there were truffles. Mrs. Connors found enough to cook and serve 50 Tulsa Garden Council members at a luncheon.

Publicity about the find brought many oak galls to the Tulsa county agent’s office for identification, but no real truffles.

They are not at all like oak galls. Instead, they seem like tiny wild potatoes and range in size from that small marbles to 2” inch oblongs.

Unlike European truffles, they are not warty but sometimes have brain-like convolutions.

European truffles, never domesticated, are found growing in the wild and scant supply 10” to 12” inches below the soil surface.

When truffle beds exhaust themselves, it takes ten years for them to renew.

I have had reports from Custer County, Okla., that truffles are found in alfalfa fields and are called “wild potatoes.”

Flavor Of Truffles

As to the flavor of truffles, some who ate them thought they tasted like filberts: others found them more like water chestnuts.

Although Tuber candidum is edible, those who find subterranean mushrooms of ants should have them identified by the USDA before venturing to eat them.

44659 by Lula Quinlan