Each saffron flower (Crocus sativus) gives 3 red stigmas that are collected by hand. This is the step of pruning.
Flowering takes place in September-October and lasts three weeks. The flowers fade after 24 hours, so you have to be very reactive to collect the stigmas (3 red strands at the end of the pistil of each flower) that will give the saffron. We can harvest the whole flower or only the pistil; in any case, the operation requires time, patience and meticulous gestures. Let the pistils dry and store them in a jar away from the light. Fresh, they do not smell. Reserve them while their taste and coloring power develop. Consume them within three years. Beyond this, the aroma is more powerful, while the flavor and color are less pronounced.
After picking the flowers, let the leaves grow. Do not cut them especially as they promote the growth of the bulbs via photosynthesis. They will then dry out and disappear. The following flowers leave from the bulblets.
Incredible numbers. With 20 bulbs, 1 gram is obtained after 3 years. The first year, the bulbs will acclimate, you will get only a few flowers. In the second year, each bulbous tree divides by three, you will have a little more flowers. In the third year, the number of bulbs is multiplied by 10.
Thanks to Véronique Eche, saffron producer, for her advice and recipes.
To read. The saffron culture told as an extraordinary adventure by Véronique Eche, who created her saffron in the Aveyron. She talks about her daily life and gives us tips and recipes to savor this spice. Recipes of a saffron, of Véronique Eche, La Rouergue, 18 €.