Roman emperors bathed in saffron-scented waters and carpeted their theatres with the purple blossoms. Cooks the world over, understand that the world’s most expensive and exotic spice – saffron – provides the deep yellow colour and pungent flavour that is critical for the success of risotto in Milan, bouillabaisse in Marseilles, and paella in Valencia.
These days there’s really quite a bit of evidence for saffron as an effective treatment for altzheimer’s, depression and weight loss.
Recently the subject of huge international smuggling scams in South London, saffron is something that the local Indian spice store keeps under the counter. Why? Well, because producing saffron commercially is hugely labour intensive. It takes 75,000 blossoms to produce just a pound of dried saffron threads that retail for nearly £200 per ounce.
So if you appreciate saffron’s deep yellow colour and pungent flavour, the saffron crocus - Crocus Satvia earns its place in the garden on at least two counts: after lying dormant all summer, it bursts with wonderful amethyst autumn colour, each blossom carrying three of the precious scarlet stigmas.
I thought it must be pricey because it was either difficult or impossible to grow, but apparently not. In fact it’s dead easy to grow as it doesn’t really need either a special situation, or much space. Plant the bulbs in the summer, harvest the stigmas in the autumn, and if you get around to it, divide the plants every four years or so.
Our lovely friends at Thompson & Morgan have offered a bag of 25 saffron crocus to 5 Woolly friends. To be in with a chance of winning then just pop your details in and enter here. This competition closes on Monday 30th September and all of the terms and conditions are available here. Good luck!