Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It is worth more than its equivalent weight in gold. We now understand why it is so expensive, it is extremely labour intensive!
In September 2019 we thought it was a great idea to plant our own Saffron. 10 000 saffron bulbs arrived at our doorstep. At first it didn’t seem like such a daunting task, but once we started planting we soon understood why the plant is so valuable.
The bulbs need to be planted 10-15cm deep in the soil and 5cm apart. This could be done in various ways: crawling on your hands and knees row by row, squatting and crab walking alongside the rows or straight-leg to squat position. Once you figure out the position that is most comfortable, your wrists begin to ache from pushing each bulb deep into the soil. At this point it is acceptable to occasionally lie on your back for a few minutes, also known as Shavasana or more commonly to us the Corpse Pose.
Saffron crocuses flower in autumn and become dormant in April. They have an exquisite pink/ purple flower with a sweet aromatic scent. Inside the flower are three stigmas. The stigmas are harvested when the sun is shining after the morning dew has dried and the flowers have opened. Tweezers are used to pluck the three stigmas from the flowers (if you’re well practiced these will come out like a string of stigmas in one pluck) and placed on a sunny surface to dry. Plucking the stigmas with your fingers is not recommended as you will dye them a beautiful orange colour and you will lose some of the precious spice.
It takes 150 Saffron flowers or 450 stigmas to produce 1g of Saffron spice. We only planted 10 000 bulbs and we received 38g of pure saffron spice. Just over half the amount of what we were anticipating. Each year the saffron bulbs multiply rewarding you with more saffron flowers and more of the beautiful red gold.