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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Gardening, Herbs, Spices and More / ZWT8 ~ Saffron Farm Spain Challenge
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    ZWT8 ~ Saffron Farm Spain Challenge

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    Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:35 pm
    Forum Host
    lauralie41 wrote:

    A large percentage of the worlds saffron market is supplied by Spain.The one region of Spain where the very best quality of saffron is produced is La Mancha, an arid, fertile, elevated plateau of central Spain. Its production is regulated and protected by the Origin Denomination "Saffron from la Mancha" to ensure quality control.

    BABY KATO surprised us with beautiful Andalusian horses to ride on our two day trek to the saffron fields.

    After getting off our horses the guides from the inn met us. They were very warm and welcoming folks that made us feel right at home. After we were shown our rooms we immediately were led to the fields.

    While walking the guides explained to us that the harvesting takes place between the end of October-beginning of November. The rose of saffron blooms at dawn and should stay the least possible time in the plant because it withers quickly and the stigmas loose color and aroma. This is why they are gathered between dawn and 10 a.m.then we were asked if we were early risers.

    The next morning we tried to wake up STARRYNEWS and it was much to early for her to be awake. DINER524 stayed behind to make sure she did get up and they both went to help the workers who were removing the stigmas from the flowers. They both looked closely, searching for the three crimson stigmas in the center of each purple blossom. The removal of the stigmas was to be done very carefully as the value of the crop would be diminished for the guides if it wasnt ensured the yellow style, which attaches the stigma to the flower, was also removed from the saffron.

    MOMLUVS6 announced it was time for lunch and asked LAVANDER LYNN to go and get Starrynews and diner524. Our guides told us we were doing a wonderful job and the next step would be roasting The stigmas of saffron have a high level of moisture so it is necessary to dry them for good preservation. The process of roasting the stigmas gives it the definitive aspect: bright red, rigid and without wrinkles.

    When we were finished with lunch COOKINGPOMPOM and LAURALIE41 stayed behind to help clear the table and tidy up. While chatting with the ladies that cooked for the inn a few secrets on using saffron for medicinal purposes were learned by cookingpompom and lauralie41 that they later shared with their friends.

    QUEENDANA went on ahead to observe the roasting process while MORGAINEGEISER went with the guides to see where the saffron is stored. For its perfect preservation, saffron is stored in big wooden trunks lined with metal plates inside protecting it from heat, cold and especially moisture.

    Oh, you had me with the Andalusian horses! (I am definitely a horse person.) I will mark you on Page 1 as completing the challenge, lauralie41.
    Wed Aug 01, 2012 6:39 pm
    Forum Host
    Muffin Goddess wrote:

    As a thank you to the Honeys for a job well done on ZWT, I arranged for us to take a day trip to a Spanish saffron farm before we had to fly to the next region. Everyone was pretty excited about the prospect of a field trip to get us out of the kitchen for a bit, although the excitement waned a little when I told them what time we needed to be at the farm.
    We all hopped into our rented motorcoach and headed off to our destination. Everyone was hoping that they could get some shut-eye on the drive (well, except for our tour guide Jubes, being on the opposite body clock schedule of everyone else on the bus). We made her drive, since she was so awake.

    We had been staying about 4 hours away from the farm that we were headed to, so everyone except for Jubes had a nice nap and was ready to learn about harvesting saffron once we arrived. As we drove up the narrow dirt road to the farm we were visiting, there were beautiful purple crocuses as far as the eye could see to either side of us

    We all hopped out of the motorcoach to meet the owners of the farm who were approaching from the farmhouse to greet us. They were very nice, but they shuffled us into the fields, explaining as we went along that we had to hurry to pick the flowers before the sun fully rose and wilted the precious saffron threads. There were already workers laboring away in the fields, but the farmer was so kind as to tell them to leave a patch untouched so the Honeys would have something to pick.

    We were then divided into two groups: the farmer took me (Muffin Goddess), SC (Studentchef), Jubes, Dorit (Dreamer in Ontario), and Kitty (FloridaNative) to one side of the patch, while the farmer's wife took Kathy (LifeisGood), Kelly (Ma Field), Lynette (breezermom), Sharon (Sharon123) and Sara (iewe) to the other side to start picking. We felt badly that Jubes got stuck driving the whole trip there while we slept, so Kitty suggested to the farmer that maybe we could find her something less strenuous to do than the picking. He stopped picking for a moment, and then his face lit up. "I have the perfect chore for her!". Next thing we knew, Jubes was cheerfully skipping off with a pouch of corn to feed the farmer's ducks and geese.

    Secretly, we were all jealous that Jubes got to play with cute farm critters while we had to do the backbreaking picking job, but we all knew that she had earned it.
    After what seemed like forever, our two picking groups met in the middle of the field. Since we were all so slow and inexperienced at picking, the farmer's wife motioned to a couple of the farmhands to come and pick the areas that we had missed. She then ushered us all out of the field with our baskets of crocuses, and we headed back to the special shed that they used for separating the saffron from the flowers.
    We went inside and took our places at the long table where some women were already seated and laboring, and the farmer's wife then gave us a quick lesson on how to properly remove the saffron. Lynette, Kelly and SC seemed to pick it up the quickest, since they were already stripping the saffron from their harvest before Dorit and I were even finished asking questions about technique. Soon, all nine of us were happily separating the saffron from the blooms in our baskets.

    Sara and Kathy were first fo empty their baskets, and proudly handed their bundles of saffron threads to the farmer's wife before running off to find Jubes.

    The farmer's wife looked at the bundles of saffron and smiled, because she realized that we must've misunderstood her when she was explaining how we DON'T want the yellow styles attached, so she set those two bundles aside and gently explained to those of us who still had flowers in our baskets that the saffron with the yellow part attached is considered lower quality and will not command a good price at the market. The farmer's wife was very gracious about our incorrectly separated saffron, but we didn't want to leave her and her husband with inferior product after they had been so patient with us. To speed things up a bit, Kelly, Lynette, Sharon and SC dumped their remaining blooms into Kitty's, Dorit's and my baskets to continue removing the saffron (correctly this time!), and they started separating the styles from the saffron that we had already separated. By the time we fixed our mistake, we all realized that we hadn't seen Sara, Kathy or Jubes in quite some time (well, that, and we were all getting REALLY hungry).
    We were especially pleased when we stepped outside the separation shed and were hit with the delicious aroma of something cooking. We followed our noses to the farmhouse kitchen, and to our surprise, we found Sara, Kathy and Jubes in the middle of making a big pan of Seafood Paella (Avec Eric). "We got tired of waiting for the rest of you to finish separating, so we decided to search the kitchen and make a meal for everyone".

    The farmer and his wife were so impressed by the meal they made that they gifted us with some tins of their saffron before we left.

    We then said our goodbyes to our lovely hosts, and went on our way, refreshed and ready for the next leg of our tour. wave.gif


    Free saffron, what a nice gift for everyone! Thank you for completing this challenge, Muffin Goddess. I hope you enjoyed it.
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