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Saffron is the dried, bright red stigmas of the flower Crocus sativus, which is a relatively easy-to-grow perennial. It lies dormant all summer, and then pushes its purple blossoms up through the mulch just as other plants are succumbing to frost. Each blossom offers up to three scarlet stigmas. Plant the bulbs in summer and harvest the stigmas in fall. A starter supply of about 50 bulbs costs about 50 euro and will produce about a tablespoon of the spice the first year. However, each year more flowers will grow, and therefore you’ll get more of the spice. Fresh saffron threads can be used immediately for cooking, or they can be dried and stored. To dry them, place on paper towels and leave for several days in a warm place. Then transfer them to an airtight container and keep in a cool, dry place.

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