Joanna Nobile has a lovely Holiday rental and working farm (agriturismo) in Guzzano, right up from Bagni di Lucca, along with her husband and son. I will do a separate post on her lovely rental. Today I want to share with you the amazing long journey of cultivating saffron.
Saffron is a spice made from the tiny red threadlike stigma of the flower my grandmother always called “crocus”. I wish I had known as a child what I know now…she had a hundred bucks sitting in her front yard!
The harvest is so tediuos it makes the spice very valuable. My husband has been carrying around a small tin of this spice for years. Most people use it in rice (risotto) or to flavor meats or soups. It was started in Greece years ago but now 90% of the harvest is in India where it is used for cooking and coloring fabric.
Anyone attempting to harvest this spice must enjoy the labor of love!
Last summer we were asked to help dig up and clean these bulbs in a small plot of land. The bulbs are then washed and soaked and replanted. Saffron flowers seem to like cold weather and the mild fall season made the crop very sparse. In November I returned to Joanna’s and picked the few flowers we could find, gently pull out the middle and dry them. This tiny jar below took ALOT of work and will yield about 40e. It takes a strong will to harvest saffron for such a small return but the good news is you only need a tiny bit of the culinary delight!