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Sensational Saffron
By Lynn Kirkland

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Herb of the Week for 4th May

Sensational Saffron by Lynn Kirkland

Autumn is a stunning season and I will say it is my pick as my favourite season. You often wake to crispness in the air which is followed
by clear blue skies and the stillness in the air.
The colours on our oak trees here at the herb farm are spectacular this year. Brighter, richer and more vibrant than I have ever seen them. I wonder if the dry conditions we have had are influencing this fabulous foliage.
Also bringing joy at the moment is the annual appearance of the world's most expensive spice.
Saffron, crocus sativus, always flowers in April and this year they are a little later and we will be harvesting our stamens into May.
Those rich red stamens you can see emerging from the purple flower are the part that is of interest to saffron users.
Pick them and dry them carefully before storing them in the dark for use in your favourite recipes.
Saffron has a natural colouring and it is for this reason that we gather our saffron threads.
We infuse them in alcohol and this makes a potent natural colourant.
It is over ten years ago that we bought a hundred saffron corms from Crop and Food Research.
Over the years they have multiplied and we have moved them around the garden when they have been dormant.
They are not difficult to grow and the biggest problem we have had was in the early days when rabbits would chew the emerging foliage and pull the corms up in the process.
Saffron is grown commercially in New Zealand however even if it is the most expensive spice in the world it is not a get rich quick scheme.
Hand harvesting the stamens which weigh so little means hard work to get a good return.
Stunning to look at in the garden and exciting and satisfying for the keen chef who wants to grow their own saffron.

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May 4th 2007 Sensational Saffron

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