The aroma evokes the heat of the sun. It is used in Mediterranean cooking and surprisingly grows on the dry Quercy causses.
Saffron, worth twice the price of gold, is a spice which comes from the pistils of the crocus sativus.
Saffron, a spice from the Quercy
The first trace of saffron was probably around 1600 BC on the foothills of the Himalayas. Since then the plant has travelled far, its production in this area, handed down from father to son, has seen its ups and downs.
- Until the 18th century it was intensively produced
- Since the French revolution mainly produced in the home, continuing a family tradition of cooking.
Cultivation has continued despite the decline and bulbs have again been planted in farms in Cajarc, Gréalou, Larnagol and Saint Chels.
Since 1997 the cooperative in Cajarc has supervised the revival of production according to the rules. The local variety is well suited to the ecosystem of the Quercy.
The saffron flowers appear in October over a period of about three weeks. The flower has a short life, around 48 hours.
The saffron pickers repeat the same gestures that their ancestor used in the 15th century. Each flower is cupped in the palm of the hand, the stem cut with the fingernails, this repeated over and over again. It takes 200 flowers to produce just 1 gram of saffron.
Each flower is cupped in the palm of the hand, the stem cut with the fingernails, this repeated over and over again. It takes 200 flowers to produce just 1 gram of saffron.
The pistils are removed and gently dried to produce “red gold” using an oven at 50°C which dries the moisture and roasts the stigma, producing an intense aroma. During this process the saffron loses 4/5 of its weight.
The leaves remain till the following May then the bulbs are dormant until the next flowering.
In June the bulbs are removed from the ground, dried and replanted during the summer.
Each bulb only flowers once but after 3 years has multiplied, producing a cluster of 15 to 20 bulbs.
Price : around 30€ per gram.
Contact for visiting the saffron farmers
Association de producteurs : les Safraniers du Quercy
Président : Didier BURG
209 avenue Germain Canet - 46160 CAJARC
Tel. 05 65 33 45 58 - Fax. 05 65 40 64 74
Conservatoire botanique du safran du Quercy : Le Safranério
Président : Christian Agrech
Siège administratif : Mairie de Cajarc 46160 Cajarc
Siège social : Musée de plein air du Quercy Cuzals
Téléphone : 06 76 75 83 86
During the week preceding the Saffron festival in Cajarc, the farmers open their doors and share with you some of their secrets.
Saffron Festival -24 and 25 October 2015
The last Saturday in October in Cajarc. Stalls selling all kinds of saffron products (syrup, jam, cheeses, patés etc) A contest for the best saffron, a meal devised by the chefs of the “Bonnes Tables du Lot” – a festival where the flavour of the coveted spice in all its forms surrounds you. A unique experience in Cajarc on the banks of the Lot.