Harvest Your Own Delicious and Healthy Saffron Spice
Saffron is a spice used to flavor Spanish, Middle Eastern and Indian dishes, and also offers many health benefits. Unlike most other crocuses that bloom in early spring, the fragrant purple blooms of saffron appear in the fall. Harvesting the spice is a labor-intensive process which is why saffron is often described as being worth more than its weight in gold.
Saffron Harvesting: Care of Saffron
Saffron spice comes from the stigmas of the plant. Each saffron bulb will produce only one bloom and each bloom produces just three of the red, threadlike stigmas, which is why the spice is so valuable. Plant saffron bulbs in a sunny, well-drained location in fall; they will not bloom until the following fall but will then come back and bloom each season for 5-6 years. The maximum yield of spice will be in their second year.
Saffron Harvesting: When to Harvest
If you’re planning to grow saffron on a commercial basis, it might be worth considering purchasing a saffron harvesting machine, but if you’re growing for yourself and your family, the traditional way of plucking the stigmas out by hand using tweezers is still the best method. Saffron blooms over a period of around three weeks in fall and the stigmas should be plucked when the blooms are fully open.
Saffron Harvesting: How to Store Saffron
If stored properly, saffron retains all its flavor for 6-12 months. First, it must be dried well or it will rot. Spread the stigmas out on sheets of kitchen paper and leave in a warm dry room for a week. Then store in an airtight jar in a cool dark place.
Have we inspired you to try growing your own saffron spice? If you have any questions about growing the beautiful saffron crocus, do get in touch; we'd love to hear from you!