A few years ago I spotted a little bag of tiny crocus corms in the tourist information shop in Saffron Walden – Crocus sativus, the flower that gave it's name to this market town in north Essex. I bought them and planted the six tiny corms at the end of our asparagus bed.
Each autumn I wait for the tufts of crocus leaves to break through the soil like upturned green paint brushes. How many will be hiding a pale sheath from which a flower will emerge. and when it does will the slugs or birds see it before me!
Those firey dragon tongues are the prize, the reason why for over 3,000 years Saffron has been cultivated and the precious stigmas traded for untold riches. Golden cloth, exquisite illuminations, medicinal potions, culinary delights, sweetmeats . . . all gilded with the aromatic gold.
You will need a field of crocuses the size of two football pitches to collect one kilo of Saffron! In the supermarkets Spanish Saffron sold in those teeny weeny packets inside a glass jar, costs £2.50 for 0.4g!
A precious pinch of fragrant Saffron and more to harvest . . .
what shall I make?
Little Baker Picks – December ’15
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