How to grow saffron – the three steps to follow in summer

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Saffron is a spice that gives food a golden colour and a deep, aromatic flavour. However, because its cultivation process has so many steps, it can be extremely costly. For example, for 1kg of saffron farmers have to plant at least 75,000 saffron flowers to harvest and prepare. The price of saffron depends on the origin, purity, and type… but you can grow your own quite easily at home for a fraction of the price! Express.co.uk reveals how to grow saffron.

Saffron strands are the stigmas of the saffron crocus, Crocus sativus.

You’ll need to buy around 150 Crocus sativus bulbs to produce just one gram of saffron.

These bulbs can be bought from mail-order bulb and seed companies for around £4 per pack of 10.

However, there is a catch. You can only plant saffron crocus in the summer in moist, well-drained soil.

They can then be harvested in autumn using tweezers.

How to grow saffron

To grow saffron, you’ll need:

  • Saffron crocus bulbs (Crocus sativus)
  • Trowel
  • Tweezers

Step one

Plant the saffron crocus bulbs in late summer, in pots or borders, in a warm, sunny spot.

Space them 15cm apart, at a depth of about 10cm, then firm down the soil and water in well.

Step two

When the crocuses flower in autumn, harvest the saffron strands by removing the long, bright orange-red stigmas from the centre of the flowers using tweezers.

Each flower produces just three stigmas, so harvest them carefully.

Step three

Lay out the harvested stigmas on a paper towel to dry out thoroughly.

Leave it to dry for a few days in a warm, dry place, then store in an air-tight container.

Use sparingly in a wide range of dishes, both savoury and sweet, where they will add colour and flavour.

How to use saffron

Saffron is a very luxurious spice that can add a lovely auburn colour to food, so it works well in curries and rice-based dishes.

Try adding saffron to paella, chicken korma, salad dressings, risottos and stews.

Saffron has a floral flavour so some people use the spice in sweet dishes and desserts.

You could add saffron to cookies, milk, pancakes, buns, pears, and chutneys.

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