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