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Fall Is Saffron Harvest Time

| 10/30/2019 9:33:00 AM

Crocus sativus 

A good friend gifted me the bulbs (technically called corms) for my Crocus sativus a few years ago, thus beginning a fascination with this pretty little autumn spray of color. I had previously used saffron in a couple of dishes but due to the price (up to $5,000 per pound for high grade) and my thrifty nature, I saved my kitchen explorations for other, less expensive forays.

Thanks to my gardening buddy, I now harvest saffron from my own garden. For a 2- to 3-week period each autumn, I wander out each morning with my little glass container and gently pluck the three stigmas—bright red, edible saffron part—from each of the flowers that have opened in the previous 24 hours.

Sharing crocus with insects

I have yet to count the flowers I harvest from in one season, but I know it’s far from the 75,000 flowers it takes to produce one pound of saffron. My small collection of bulbs is slowly multiplying, but it’s enough to supply my single household with enough treasure for my current culinary purposes. It will be time to dig up the corms next year to divide them as this is optimal every 3 to 4 years for bringing on even larger harvests.

I heartily support growing your own if you live in Crocus sativus friendly zones—Zone 5 to Zone 8 in my neck of the woods, and up to Zone 9 in the west. I needn’t have worried about our mini drought affecting my crocus since they don’t like too much rain in the summer warmth when they’re sleeping. However, harvest did start a couple of weeks later this year because of our warmer temperatures. My crocus seem to be triggered by nighttime temperatures in the 30s.

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