La Ferme Du Safran - Septfonds

When I signed up for a tour of a local saffron farm I didn't realise that I would have the most interesting morning and learn so much about such a beautiful little thing. 'La Ferme du Safran' is just outside Septfonds and we were welcomed in by Bertrand, the owner. He led us straight to his field where he grows his saffron which looks like this...


Pretty much like any ordinary field you might come across. This, Bertrand began, is the beauty of growing saffron. The field is not watered, it is not shielded from the elements, the bulbs are planted amongst the weeds and left to do their thing. Harvesting takes place only in October. The flowers have to be picked by hand before daybreak as once they open the strands of saffron are exposed to the sun which kills their vitamins. Each flower contains three saffron strands which are extracted by hand. The distinctive colour is already there but Bertrand told us he gets the taste out of the saffron by heating it, where it loses 5 times it's weight, and leaving it to mature like a good wine.


Saffron is expensive due to the fact that it is processed by hand and what seems like a lot only yields a very tiny amount. It's priced like gold. When buying saffron if it seems too cheap chances are it's not real saffron. Anything can be made to look like saffron strands and then coloured and flavoured so be careful to check what you are buying. You may find, for example, that what you think is powdered saffron is actually turmeric! Real saffron has so many benefits. It's an antidepressant, it can aid digestion, the essential oil has calming properties, marathon runners use it to calm cramp, and you'll find it in some baby teething syrups. If saffron is something you think you've never had chances are you have as it is present in many medications.

After the tour of the farm and shop we were led inside for a home cooked saffron infused lunch where I quickly realised that I had never before eaten true saffron. It has such a particular flavour. There were people on my table who failed to pick out the saffron taste which was a surprise as for me it was such a dominant flavour in every course. The fish starter had a saffron infused butter sauce. The veal main had a creamy saffron sauce alongside seasonal potatoes and pumpkin. The trio of desserts included saffron meringues, fromage blanc topped with saffron compote and apple tart with yet more saffron. By the end of the meal I had to admit I was pretty saffroned out and I wasn't sure I actually enjoyed the taste. I can see how it can add colour and flavour but I think it's a fine chemistry to get it right. I bought a small packet of saffron to experiment with. I think I may start with a sweet rather than savoury dish, adding it to an already tried and tested cake recipe perhaps. As Bertrand added at the end, the best saffron recipes...are yours!

Have you cooked with saffron before? What do you think of the taste?

1 comment

  1. Looks fantastic, Becky,

    I planted some saffron a few years again and we've only had one flower to date!!!

    Sara x

    ReplyDelete

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