Ok, this is a little silly, but I am so excited. We’ve been growing a small patch of saffron crocuses (Crocus sativus) for about 5 years now. Last year they bloomed for the first time, if a bit sadly. But the snails got to them before we could harvest any of the saffron. I couldn’t believe how fancy those snails were, dining on the most expensive spice in the world without a second thought. The nerve!
Last week, D told me they were blooming again. One or two flowers already seemed to be missing their pistils (the saffron comes from the some of the female parts of the flower, the style and stigma), but one of the flowers had been broken off – presumably a snail ate the base of the flower, not knowing what glories were hidden a little higher up. I picked the saffron out of the soil, dusted it off, and set it on a plate to dry. At that time, I put snail bait around the plants, hoping to get one or two more chances.
This morning, another crocus was blooming! D pointed it out, and I ran out in my pjs and slippers. And OF COURSE a neighbor was walking her dog right in front of my yard, further proving my theory that every time I leave the house w/o makeup (or in today’s case, a bra) I will run into someone I know. ANYWAY, I grabbed that crocus, one pistil protruding enticingly from between the petals, and brought it indoors. I cut open the flower to find a fully intact pistil, and removed the red and orange parts of the style and stigma.
I have done a little Googling of saffron production lately, to make sure I was getting the right part of the flower. The pictures of people pulling the styles off thousands of crocus flowers are bonkers. It makes my miniature harvest seem very childish, but whatever. It’s no surprise that this spice is the most expensive in the world, the amount of work and time that goes into producing this tiny spice is astounding. Seriously, look through the Google images of saffron harvest. Amazing.
The 6 little styles are now drying in my cupboard, in a small dish. You dry them in a dark place, not too hot or humid, for about a week and then store them in a container. I have never cooked with saffron before, and I suspect with 6 pieces I won’t be able to do much. But I just feel so proud of our little plants! And we still may get a few more. We aren’t in a prime saffron growing region, clearly, but with a little patience and the ability to strike while the iron is hot, I may just have some saffron rice before long. Yay!
Crocus sativus are a fall blooming crocus, but are not to be confused with colchicums. Colchicum are in the same family but are poisonous, so don’t eat those. Honestly, they are pretty easy to tell apart. I totally love our colchicums, but nothing beats the excitement of a potential saffron harvest!