In the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, just 35 km from Marrakech, our small organic farm produces ISO certified Class 1 Saffron. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice often called red gold. It has been prized through the ages for use in the cuisines of many countries. The crocus filaments add a rich colour, fragrance and unique flavour to many foods. Saffron has been known since antiquity for it’s medicinal properties but now emerging research is discovering exciting new uses for this wonderful spice as a preventive and curative treatment for many of today’s chronic health conditions.
GROWING + HARVESTING
In Morocco the saffron is harvested between October through to December whenever the six-petalled flowers appear. During this time, the local Berber women start picking the flowers at dawn. Picking the flowers in early morning ensures that the unique compounds within the filaments are preserved. The bees love the pollen in the saffron flowers and jostle with the pickers for access to the flowers. Which is why after the stigmas have been removed we, at Dar Zahour, leave the flowers outside for the bees to collect the remaining pollen.
As soon as a picker’s basket is full of flowers they are taken to the processing room where the three precious red filaments - or stigmas - are carefully detach from the stem. The red filaments are dried in a dehydrator and subsequently lose 80% of their weight, so for every 100 grams of saffron filaments harvested, only 20 grams of dry saffron will remain.
The Saffron plant contains more than 150 volatile and aroma-yielding compounds and it is these compounds that are arousing so much interest in the world of medical and nutritional research.
Saffron takes a little preparing to reap the full benefits of the spice. Here we share how to best activate the taste, the amount to use and how best to store.