Oh, you pretty thing ...
I'd been getting a little nervous about how this year's saffron harvest would go. Apart from topping up the raised beds in mid-December (thanks to Margaret of Clan Davidson for spending an entire afternoon pushing barrows full of compost uphill) and doing the occasional bit of weeding, we didn't pay them much attention. Then we had six weeks of hot weather and no rain. Farmer Wan hooked up a sprinkler, gave the parched corms a drink and we waited.
Much to our surprise, our first flower popped up on 30 March, two days earlier than last year.
Wednesday: only another 300 or so to process
Everything's different to last year, this time around. Although we're not harvesting 500 flowers a day, as the guy we're growing for said we might, there are definitely more of them. Yesterday, I picked 344. On Wednesday, we processed 745. And yeah, I count them.
Last year, we had a lot more foliage appear before the flowers. This year, it's the other way around, which I suspect is how it's meant to be.
The red stigmas (the actual saffron bits) seem longer this year. There's a higher proportion of doubles, rather than the more desirable triplets. I'm not sure why.
I think the 2013 harvest may well be more drawn out. The corms were all planted on the same day last year and most of the plants came up at the same time. This year, we still have entire rows yet to break the surface.
We've got the processing side of things down pat now. It's fiddly work but satisfying, in its way. The most challenging part of the whole process is the drying. Last year, we under-dried. This year, we might have gone a little too far the other way. It's a nerve-wracking prospect because perfect product means top dollar. We won't know for sure until it's sent away and analysed. In the meantime, we'll do our best to get it spot-on.
And now, to prove there's a lot more to Farmer Wan than simply building chook houses, chopping firewood and constructing bunny-proof fences, feast your eyes on his gorgeous images of our exotic cash crop.
Posted by Farmer Nik
About Ewan and Niki
Scottish mechanical engineer with a deep and abiding passion for good food. Outstanding cook. Builder of lots of stuff. Cattle whisperer. Connoisseur of beer. A lover rather than a fighter.
Kiwi writer and broadcaster who hates cabbage, even though she knows it's good for her. Chook wrangler. Grower of food and flowers. Maker of fine preserves. Lover of dancing and wine. Definitely a fighter.