It may surprise you to know that truffles grow in Lanzarote, they’re known as papa cría, la trufa canaria. Truffles are normally associated with damp northern European forests, not in desert conditions on a Canary island, but if we’ve had a good quantity of rainfall over the winter, they can be found here from January to March.
Truffle Hunting in Lanzarote
Truffles grow in the Jable region of Lanzarote, this is the desert area stretching from Famara to San Bartolomé, They grow on the roots of a particular woody spiky plant called Helianthemum Canariense, and can be spotted in the ground, without a dog to sniff them out.
At this time of year you’ll find truffle hunters wandering the slopes of the Risco de Famara on the right of the road as you drive down towards the beach, particularly in the area known as Rincón de la Paja. The secret is to spot a crack in the earth close to the plant, where a truffle is growing beneath the surface.
Truffles are the world’s most expensive natural food. It takes about seven years for a truffle to grow from a spore, and there is a very short window when they are edible. During that window they give off a pungent smell, which is closely related to the smell of male pigs! This is why female pigs are often used to find them.
Truffles should be used sparingly, and are often gently grated into a dish. As well as offering their own flavour, they also seem to enhance a dish’s natural flavours. You can use truffles:
- In Sauces and soups just before serving
- To flavour oils – use best quality extra virgin olive oil
- Inserted under the skin of chicken or Turkey prior to cooking
- In scrambled egg
- Grated into butter and served on toast
- In home made paté
- Sliced into Salads
- Anywhere else where you would like a flavour burst
If you’re looking for something different to do on a dull day in Lanzarote, why not go treasure hunting and see if you can dig up a truffle or two!