How to Grow Saffron
Growing Saffron Crocus or Crocus Sativus plant or bulbs is not that difficult, so if you live in the right climate, you can indeed grow your own. When we look at how to grow saffron we first need to look at the climate. Saffron crocus prefer a warm climate and full sun.
It is the stigmas of the Crocus Sativus that is the most expensive spice in the world. Picked fresh and then dried, saffron adds aroma and color to culinary delights from around the world, Saffron Rice is one of the most popular dishes. Ria Pynaker from Patchwork Nursery provided an outline on how to grow saffron in Australia .
We Includes brief notes on drying Saffron.
Looking for saffron seeds, forget it, far to difficult to buy and grow, buy bulbs instead, much quicker and easier.
Crocus Sativus is an autumn flowering crocus highly valued for the stamen (stigma) which is used in many cultures as a flovoring and coloring in cooking. You can grow your own saffron at home all you need is the right conditions and some bulbs.
Where to grow
Crocus Sativus (saffron Crocus) is a true bulb and is best suited to a Mediterranean climate (dry summers) so usually Victoria, South Australia, WA and some areas of NSW. Hot humid and sub – tropical to tropical areas are generally not suitable, so Sydney and North through Queensland are not ideal.
HOW TO OBTAIN THE MOST EXPENSIVE SPICE IN THE WORLD FOR A FRACTION OF THE COST!!
Ever been to a deli or health food shop trying to buy some strands of SAFFRON?
Usually you are shocked by the price. It is the most expensive spice in the world. $2,000 to $3,000 per kg!!!
Wish you had a couple of kilos.
Care and Cultivation Notes
The Saffron Crocus is an Autumn flowering crocus, a plant that prefers full sun and a warmer climate than its European cousins. Saffron can be obtained by buying the bulbs and planting them in the garden or in pots.
Growing hints and repotting
Saffron Crocus are easy to grow, in good, friable soil, plant at around 5cm deep and 10 – 15 cm apart, and kept slightly moist during the flowering period.
They can also be grown on a pot or container. Be careful not to over-water when grown like that.
Saffron bulbs will multipy fairly quickly and as it can take 30 -40 flowers to get a teaspoon of stigmas you will need a few to start with.
- Position – Full Sun, best suited to areas with low humidity.
- Soil – Humus rich fertile and well drained
- Planting – Plant sin spring to early summer
- Flowering Time – Autumn
Each flower produces 3 stamens which provide the SAFFRON. Stamens must be harvested straight after the flowers open early in the morning .
It’s a time consuming process and you will need some tweezers and good eyesight, but rewarding once you have your own small batch of fresh SAFFRON.
After harvesting, dry the saffron stamens in a dry, sheltered spot for 3-5days. Then store in an air tight container.
That way, strands keep their beautiful fragrance for a very long time .
Is fresh saffron really much better than the saffron you buy in the supermarket ? The answer is yes, saffron is best when less than 12 months old, most supermarket saffron is older.
Also home grown saffron is actaully ‘pure saffron’, growing your own is about the only way you can be sure of what you are getting.
Will it taste and smell better, YES IT WILL. You only need a couple of strands to flavour a rice dish for 4 people, ( only one of many dishes where you can use SAFFRON)
You can obtain Crocus Sativus Bulbs from specialist nurseries on our Crocus Sativus Page