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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 12:21 GMT
Yorkshire bid for truffle centre
A generic picture of a farmer searching for truffles
Truffles are found under the roots of oak and beech trees
A rare fungus which has graced tables of the finest restaurants in the world could soon be grown in a former mining area of West Yorkshire.

Gourmets who have previously paid through the nose for the pleasure of sampling scented truffles may soon have a mass-produced version on their plate.

Supermarket chain Asda is trying to cultivate spores from the black truffle on to tree roots near Knottingley.

A spokesman said it was time "to bring truffles to the masses".

The soil in the area at Cridling Stubbs, close to the M62 motorway, is precisely the right type to cultivate the delicacy, the spokesman said.

Officials at the store chain intend to use the roots of oak and beech trees to host the spores in an experiment to find out if the prized truffle fungus could be grown on a commercial scale.

We want to make them affordable for mums, miners and milkmen
Asda spokesman

Spokesman Drew Kirk said: "We want to make truffles as popular as Yorkshire pudding or mushy peas.

"Until now truffles have been a food for millionaires but we want to make them affordable for mums, miners and milkmen by growing our own in the UK."

About 200 oak and beech trees will be planted at the site but the results will not be seen for between two and five years - the time it will take the spores to develop into useable truffles.

Traditionally grown in south east France where 80% of the black truffles are harvested, the fungus often sells for between 140 to 420 per kilo.

Specially-trained dogs are often used to locate the growing fungus under the trees' roots.

In France and Spain pigs are used to locate some of the truffles, but owners have to be quick - given a chance the pigs eat the valuable delicacy.

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06 Dec 03 |  West Yorkshire

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