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Grow Gourmet : Saffron

I’m on a never ending quest To Grow Fun Things. Today’s lesson is on Saffron. Saffron is an insanely expensive spice that adds a unique flavor and color to many dishes (or so I’m told, I’ve never had it). The spice is the dried stigmas from the purple flowers. There are only three stigmas per plant and they have to be harvested by hand. See where the expense come in?
I ordered mine from White Flower Farm. I bought 50 bulbs and the total cost was about $50 including shipping. I can’t find them on the web site now but they were there! They ship in September and you have to buy in increments of 25.
I am right on the edge of zone 5, the coldest place they can grow (but some places say zone 6). After I ordered then WFF sent me an email saying they couldn’t promise that the bulbs would survive in my climate. I knew that going in (yay research!) and planned on planting mine in pots so I could move them into the basement for the winter. 
These things are pretty hardy. I… uh,  forgot to plant them for a while. Then I planted them and put them on the wrong side of the house so there wasn’t enough sun. When I moved them to the south side of the house the chickens found them and ate a good amount of the grass-like foliage. So I put them on the deck railing. And the wind blew them off… These bulbs have had the poo kicked out of them. 
See what I mean? This chicken in particular has it out for the saffron.
But I still got flowers! And flowers mean saffron. See the dark orange peaking out? That’s the yummy part.

You get three tiny pieces from each flower. And this pic is from before they dried so they got even smaller. But they smell so good! 
Despite my complete failure the pitfalls I’ve encountered I’m lined up for a tiny delicious harvest. The bulbs have each sent up multiple groupings of leaves and even if I only get a few flowers this year I’ll be all set next year because the bulbs multiply. 
What gourmet items have you grown?

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  1. What a fun post! I’ve never thought of growing saffron before. So after your harvest how are you storing the bulbs for winter? I’m giving you another post here! Thanks for sharing what you have learned this year. I’m pinning it for next Spring and would love to know more from you.

  2. Wow. I learned something new today. Thanks. I’m so glad you linked this up to Motivated Monday at BeColorful

  3. Wow – I did not know that saffron came just from the little flower stigmas! And how cool that you could grow it! I might have to try that sometime. I don’t think I have grown anything particularly gourmet, but my 6 year old chose 3 tomato plants from Walmart last year and we got tomatoes from two of them, in spite of nearly ignoring them completely, so that was fun. I hope to grow more things this year and have been poring over seed catalogs. You’ve inspired me to grow something interesting!
    Beth recently posted…What’s For Dinner: Ravioli CasseroleMy Profile

  4. I’ve seen saffron for sale in the stores and have always been shocked by the price. Now that I know how little you get per plant and that it has to be harvested by hand, I do understand the cost better. Thank you for sharing your research.

    I also would like to know you store the bulbs for the winter. I would love to give growing saffron a try.

    Thanks for the awesome gardening post!
    P.S. Stopping by from BYB in 100 Days Challenge
    Adrienne recently posted…Fevers, flu, and lots of napsMy Profile