The Burgundy Truffle and How to Find It
Tuber uncinatum or burgundy truffle is the most widespread edible truffle in Europe. It can be found from up in Sweden to the southerly most parts of the Mediterranean and it grows from Ireland in the west right across to Turkey in the east.
When a truffle extends across such a wide variety of locations, the growth factors vary accordingly. So it is important to research the requirements of the truffle for the area where you intend to hunt. Altitude differs from country to country, the further north, the lower the altitude. Generally speaking, it is ripe from October to January but the time should be adjusted as the truffle matures earlier the further south you hunt. Soil types too will range from chalk or limestone in the UK to a mix of loam and stone in the mountains of southern Italy. However there are some considerations which are common to tuber uncinatum wherever they may be. It is a truffle which needs shade to flourish although a successful season will also depend on adequate sunshine – for this reason it seems to thrive in south-facing woods in colder countries like England. Forests where they are found are fairly standard too. Tuber uncinatum are associated with the roots of several trees: oaks (Quercus), beeches (Fagus sylvatica), poplars (Populus), hazels (Corylus),European and hop hornbeams (Carpinus Betulus/Ostrya Carpinifolia) lindens (Tilia).
When you are researching where the truffle grows in your country you may find that there is no mention of the species. This is because it is classed as tuber aestivum which is the scientific name for the black summer truffle. The name ‘uncinatum’ is used for commercial and culinary purposes. The story behind this confusion is as follows. The summer truffle and the burgundy truffle were always consided one and the same until 1887 when the French biologist/mycologist Gaspard Adolphe Chatin decided that they were two separate species. He named the autumn truffle tuber uncinatum Chatin. There are after all several differences between the two types of truffle the aroma and flavour of the autumn truffle are deeper and more complex than the summer truffle, the flesh is darker and the spores are dissimilar. There was always some rather dull controversy surrounding the two truffles…were they the same species …weren’t they the same species? This titilating argument was finally settled in 2004 with molecular analysis. This revealed that tuber aestivum and uncinatum were one and the same species. Any differences between the two truffles is as a result of environmental influences. Unfortunately this can make it more difficult than usual to locate uncinatum growing areas as they do not grow in the same spots as their summer counterparts.