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Amid Discovery of the Colossal “Béla the Truffle,” Hungary Set to Become a Major Player in the World Truffle Market

According to Hungarian news site 24.hu, a huge white truffle, christened ‘Béla Mágnás,’ was recently discovered by Truffle hunters in Hungary. ’Béla’ might be worth up to three to four thousand euros (roughly $3-4,000 USD) per kilogram. And considering that this particular truffle ways upwards of a half-kilo, that makes Béla one expensive fungus.

In a discussion with József Ulrich, president of the Hungarian National Association of Truffle-Growers, 24.hu discussed truffles and the work involved with finding truffles, as well as possibilities for the future of truffle-hunting in Hungary.

The Hungarian government is set to engage in a program of re-forestation in the coming years, and according to Ulrich it is likely that the government will provide financial support for the establishment of truffle-growing forests as well. While it takes around 8 years for one of these forests to begin yielding truffles, the income from one of these forests is 20 to 30 times higher than that of a similarly-sized tract of land that is growing standard crops, up to 12,000 euros ($12,700 USD) per year.

In addition, due to the northward spread of warmer temperatures, Piedmont white truffles, one of the most sought-after and expensive species in the world, can now be found in Hungary as well; the recently-discovered Béla Mágnás truffle is of this species. In time, Hungary might be able to rise into the ranks of great truffle producers such as France and Spain.

Regarding the process of finding Truffles, Ulrich made it clear that, contrary to what many people may believe, it is far more than a simple, pleasant walk into the woods with a trained pig, who then finds the truffles automatically. In fact, searching for truffles is a long, slow process one that is usually performed today by dogs, rather than pigs, as dogs will not attempt to eat the costly fungi.

Discussing the extraordinary cost of these outwardly rather unimpressive-looking mushrooms, Ulrich was quick to point out that “Truffles are a spice that is quite expensive when measured by the kilo, but you only use a few grams of it at a time.” By way of emphasis, Ulrich said that if you were to use one or two grams of truffle in preparing a dish, that would not cost you more than two to three euros.

According to Ulrich, there are many places in Hungary where truffles can be found. The most commonly occurring truffle, which can be found in both hilly and flat regions, is the summer truffle. Hungary is a key world supplier of these particular truffles; yearly, roughly 20 metric tons are harvested from Hungarian forests. Summer truffles can be found, logically enough, from the beginning of summer to late in the fall. In addition, Hungary is also home to the garlic, or smooth, truffle, which can be found deeper underground, usually in oak forests. Ulrich’s personal favorite, however, is the winter truffle, tuber brumale, which can be found from the end of November until the end of February, and which has a very strong, pleasant aroma.

If you hurry, you can still see Béla the truffle in Budapest’s Central Market Hall, where he will be on display for the rest of the day.

Via 24.hu and tozsdeforum.hu

Image via 24.hu

Video via YouTube