Saffron growing, a thousands-of-year-old ritual and a painstaking task
Saffron-growing came to us from the Greek islands and then developed in Provence from the 16th century. The bulbs of the first saffron farms were planted in the Vaucluse. The end of October marks the harvest of the golden spice in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The flowers of crocus sativus bloom and reveal their precious filaments. The harvesters start their delicate hand-picking early in the morning before the first rays of the sun can damage the flowers. The subtle stage of sorting is carried out within 24 hours of picking. Flower by flower, pistil after pistil, each filament lodged between the petals is cut. These filaments are what will then give saffron. But before, they are oven-dried or, more traditionally, dried over the embers of a wood fire. Lastly, the saffron farmers are careful to package the saffron adequately and keep it away from the light so that it keeps its flavour and bouquet.