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Saffron?

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Saffron?

Post  brainchasm on 3/6/2014, 5:38 pm

This is more aimed at people in the hotter states, and especially Southwestern deserts, but...

Why doesn't anyone grow saffron?  It's brutally expensive in the store, you just need to harvest the right part of the flower, and the best saffron comes from Iran (hot, arid, etc) of all places.

Anyone ever try?  Anyone know where to get corms besides amazon?

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Re: Saffron?

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/6/2014, 8:16 pm

I asked someone in a class today the same question. Apparently our Oregon climate isn't a good match. But considering the cost of the seed, you're right -- it's well worth investigating if you like the spice. Or even just the color of the spice, which is pretty awesome-looking in a rice dish.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  camprn on 3/6/2014, 9:53 pm

If you just want a similar color you can use calendula petals.

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Re: Saffron?

Post  martha on 3/6/2014, 10:23 pm

The saffron crocus blooms for one day. It gives you about - I think - 6 or 8 strands of saffron. Sounds like a lot - but wait. The earlier in the day you harvest, the more aromatic and flavorful the saffron will be. When you pick the saffron, it looks like a tiny amount, but like something that could add up. Then the threads dry, and you have the smallest amount ever. 

I have some saffron crocus - did you guess?  Very Happy  just for fun, because I grow a lot of things for my restaurant. But there is no way, even for personal use, that this is a practical venture. It takes approximately 150 crocus to yield one gram of saffron, and that is assuming you catch all of it.

Not saying impossible - plant tons of them, they are pretty and purple, and if your lifestyle is such that you are up early in the day, and you're home every day and willing to check every day, go for it!

By the way, they are fall blooming. I think they bloom in the spring, but no saffron threads, and then they rebloom in the fall. Or maybe they don't bloom at all in the spring.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  martha on 3/6/2014, 10:24 pm

PS - I am so thrilled that my silly venture (these specific crocus, not gardening!) has actually yielded useful information!
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Saffron

Post  GloriaG on 3/6/2014, 11:59 pm

Hi All,

I have been growing saffron for a little over two years.  First inside - like spring bulbs, then outside in the garden.

Yes - saffron likes HOT, dry weather but it's really easy to grow.  I have mine planted in a small 2' oval in front of my asparagus patch.  (A small area is good because it yields quite a lot and you have to harvest them on hands-and-knees.)

Saffron blooms in the fall around August.  Each bulb produces one or more flowers that last only one day.  The flowers have three bright orange stigma called "threads" that are best when picked in the morning.  Since the blooms don't all open at the same time, every morning when I go out to check the garden, I harvest a few using tweezers to gently pluck the threads and drop them  into a plastic jar lid.  It only takes a few minutes, but I'm sure wouldn't be time-effective for a restaurant.  After harvesting, I dry the threads before storing.

The first year I planted the saffron, I didn't harvest any threads so the bed would have a chance to establish.  Now, I have a thick patch and from the way they've spread, the bulbs will need to be thinned after a few years.  Other than that, they really don't take any maintenance.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/7/2014, 1:23 am

Well, that's investigation enough for me! Sounds like a ridiculous amount of work for what you get in return. You'd have to like the plants just as plants, methinks. I don't have to like tomato plants, because it's enough that they give me tomatoes.

Thanks for the info, Martha and Gloria.
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Saffron

Post  GloriaG on 3/7/2014, 2:55 am

Marc,

You're absolutely right!  Saffron is a novelty, and time consuming.  

Thankfully, home recipes usually only call for 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon full (maybe 4-flowers worth) so it's not as bad as it sounds.  And, the current Amazon price is about $19 for 3 grams - upwards of $2000 per pound.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007P4W0OI/ref=s9_simh_gw_p325_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0VYKC33FYHW5VBNYW2TC&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846 

We don't use a lot of saffron, so for me it works out fine.  I can pick a few threads each morning when it's blooming and have enough for the year.

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