The Saffron Harvest

Oh, did I forget to mention that we planted saffron late last summer? 

It appears that I did not. 

Well, saffron comes from a certain type of fall-blooming crocus, and you can easily grow them yourself instead of spending big bucks for saffron at the store. In fact, saffron was very commonly grown and used by the Pennsylvania Dutch, so it definitely doesn't have to be as fancy-pants as we tend to think it is. 

I ordered our crocus bulbs from White Flower Farm and planted 25 of them in the herb garden at the end of last summer. Though they sent up leaves, they didn't (and weren't expected to) bloom.

And then we saw neither hide nor hair of them until today:

Honestly, I thought these Zone 6 flowers were killed by our terrible winter and soggy spring, since that patch was bare dirt straight through August.

But then today, Kirk cleared out all the dead and dying tomato plants, and we saw that a few of our crocuses did indeed bloom, and many more of them sent up leaves after all.

To harvest saffron, you just pluck the tiny red stigmas once the flower opens. Like most herbs, it's probably best to harvest in early morning when essential oils are at their most concentrated, but whatever. 

Here's the saffron I picked today:

That's the harvest of four flowers. Once it dries out, it's ready to store until we're ready to use it. Since usually a recipe calls for a pinch, and I just found out that a pinch is about 20 stigmas, we've got a ways to go before we're ready for paella or anything. I'm hoping more flowers open this year, but we can wait.


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