We just chatted with Gina from the Navelli Saffron Cooperative in L’Aquila, Abruzzo. We learned a few things and brushed up on our saffron facts.
The cooperative is made up of less than 100 crocus farmers and produces 80 kilos every year. It takes around 250,000 crocus flowers to produce only one kilo of saffron threads! This year, a couple of wild boar ate through three hectares of crocus flowers. Incredible! That means there was less yield than usual.
Gina also talked to us about the importance of the crocus bulbs. The Navelli Saffron Cooperative is the only DOP saffron production in the world, mainly for two production practices. First, they replant their bulbs every year as opposed to the every 4-ish years of conventional production. Second, the cooperative exclusively dries their threads over a fire of almond and oak wood. Never in the sun, since that would overcook it and destroy some of the flavors. How hot should the fire be? Well it really shouldn’t be a fire at all. The threads should be dried over gently smoldering embers, warm enough so that if you “put your hand up next to it, it feels pleasurable,” Gina tells us.