Prince Philip becomes first person in the UK to grow rare delicacy
31st December 2018

Prince Philip is believed to be the first person in the UK to sucessfully grow rare black truffles known as ‘black diamonds’.

The Royal has finally achieved his ambition of growing the delicacy at Sandringham after more than a decade of perseverance.

The gastronomic treats have been harvested from Philip’s organic ‘truffiere’ plantation on the Queen’s estate in Norfolk where he is spending much of his time during his retirement.

The 97-year-old is believed to have been sharing the delicacies, which have a market price of around £600 a kilogramme, with other members of the Royal Family to savour at meal times.

But some of his prized crop is thought to have found its way to the visitor cafe at Sandringham which has been serving a seasonal £7.95 starter of Sandringham game and Norfolk truffle terrine with pickled vegetables.

Philip spent £5,000 on buying special truffle-impregnated trees in 2006 after being told that the alkaline soil at Sandringham was an ideal environment for them.

He had the 300 oak and hazel saplings planted on a one acre plot beside the Royal fruit farm on the estate, which also produces blackberries for Ribena.

It was revealed in 2009 that two Italian hounds, specially trained to sniff out truffles, had failed to find any in the root systems of the trees.

But Philip who started overseeing the estate after marrying the Queen, carried on regardless and his patience has finally been rewarded in recent years.

Adrian Cole, a director of Truffle UK, which supplied the saplings to Sandringham, said: "They have been highly successful."

Mr Cole said he believed that an estate worker had been using a specially-trained dog to sniff out the truffles during the growing season from December to March.

He added, "The majority have been The Tuber Melanosporum which is the French Perigord black truffle which is as good as you can get.

"From what I gather, none have been sold. In other words they have all gone to the house or members of the family

"You need a dog to hunt them. If you only go once every three or four weeks you are not going to produce very much, but if you go on a regular basis during the growing season you will increase your yield no end."

Mr Cole said he believed that Sandringham was the first place to successfully harvest black truffles in the UK.

He also revealed that the Italian embassy in London had offered to help Philip several years ago after reading reports that his plantation had not yet yielded any truffles.

As a result, truffle experts from Italy visited the Sandringham plantation and found areas devoid of vegetation, caused by an enzyme associated with truffles, which indicated that a crop would soon come.

However, he was unable to comment on the size of the Sandringham crop, saying: "You will never get that information out of a truffle plantation owner. They are very secretive about it."

While Mr Cole admitted he had "absolutely no idea" what dishes with truffles were being eaten by the Royal Family, he did list his personal ideal truffle pairings.

He said: "At its simplest they are marvellous with pasta and egg dishes. You don’t really want to cook with them, it is rather like parsley or chives. You put them on a hot dish when done and serve immediately.

"They give baked eggs a marvellous taste. The Perigord black truffle are just delicious when they are thinly sliced and salted on toast, and gently warmed under a grill. You can also put them in pasta. There are loads ways of dealing with them."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex reportedly served parmesan and truffle oil crisps to guests at their wedding in May, but it is not known if the truffles used by their caterers were sourced from Sandringham.

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