October and November is a great time to harvest the Crocus Sativus where we get the Saffron spice used for making the traditional Spanish dish, paella.

Saffron Harvest in Murcia

My next door neighbour and farmer, Abel Alvarez Canto, tells me he plants the seeds in August and harvests the beautiful violet flowers in October and November. Abel’s mother, Federica, spends many hours picking out three tiny bright red stigmas from each flower head for drying and storing.

Federica Canto Cortes

Having just left her doing this I can assure you the aroma is to die for. Saffron is costly (also known as “red gold”). This is because it takes so long to produce a small amount and this delicate operation can only be done by hand. Abel told me that the crocus is, however, very easy to grow and only needs a little water when it is first planted during the month of August.

Paella is a dish I love making for my guests here at The Olive Tree Guest House so next year I intend to try growing it myself in front of the house and well away from the greedy beaks of my chickens.

Jenny Lock Proprietor of The Olive Tree Guest House

Abel has warned me that wild boar are also attracted to the plant. Wild boar hunting takes place most Sunday mornings in the nearby Sierra de la Pila mountain range. This is not done just for sport because on the rare occasion that one is killed the meat is butchered and shared amongst the neighbours.

The Joys of Inland Spain – Saffron
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