Saffron has often been described as a spice that is worth more than its weight in gold. Saffron comes from the saffron crocus bulb (Crocus sativus), which is an autumn blooming crocus. the saffron crocus is unique among the 75 other crocus species. Its formal name of Crocus sativus is derived from the Latin meaning “cultivated.” Indeed, it has a long history of cultivation dating back to its use by Egyptian physicians in 1600 BC for medicinal purposes.
The spice is actually the red stigmas of this crocus flower. Each flower will only produce three stigmas and each saffron crocus bulb will only produce one flower. First step to cultivate saffron is seeding of Crocus sativus Corm. For this best time is end of July up to end of August. Pick up of grown flowers begin in start of November and takes about one month. Please note that definition of these times completely depends on the weather specification of the region. After collecting flowers farmers separate Stigma part from the plant.
Saffron plants need well draining soil and lots of sun. If saffron crocus is planted in swampy or poor draining soil, it will rot. Other than needing good soil and sun, saffron crocus are not picky. Saffron crocus blooms in the fall over the course of three weeks, when the saffron crocus harvesting commences. When it’s time to pick saffron, harvesting saffron growers may work up to 19-hour days to carefully reap the blooms and then extract the few stigmas, which are then dried over heat and packaged for sale to international markets. Here’s the mind boggler; it takes 75,000 flowers yielding 225,000 stigmas to create a single pound of saffron!