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Saffron from Lake Garda

Italy has cultivated Saffron since the 14th century. The precious and unique spice is also called "yellow gold" because of its colour and it’s known to have extraordinary effects.

The use of saffron as a remedy and as a luxurious spice goes back to ancient times as the Bible and the Iliad both mention saffron highlighting its importance and popularity in history. Due to the special microclimate at Lake Garda, saffron is grown here and used to refine regional specialities.

A precious and extraordinary spice

You obtain the saffron from the flower pistil of the eponymous crocus species, scientifically referred to as Crocus sativus. If the crocuses produce their purple flowers in the autumn for a few weeks, the intense red and sweet-aromatic scented threads can be picked by hand and then dried. This process makes saffron one of the most expensive spices in the world. In Italy, it is used to refine starters, main courses, bread and desserts.

The extraordinary spice not only tastes particularly good but is also healthy. Saffron contains the natural dye crocin, which makes it rich in antioxidants. Also, saffron has a detoxifying and digestive effect, and vitamin B2 stimulates the metabolism.

Cultivation areas and methods at Lake Garda

Saffron cultivation is entirely free of fertilisers, pesticides and chemicals. The bulb of the perennial plant gets planted in August. In the autumn it sprouts and finally blooms between October and November. Then the crocuses can be picked by hand in the early morning hours. Then the pistils are separated by hand from the rest of the flower, dried over burning charcoal and then packed.

Lake Garda saffron is grown mainly in the hilly area at the foot of Monte Baldo, in Pozzolengo, Pravelle and Gargnano. In Pozzolengo, more precisely in the Azienda Agricola Al Muràs, saffron of high quality has been cultivated since 2001 with great success. Every year they produce about 3 kg of saffron. For a kilogram of the spice about 150,000 flowers are needed. The saffron from Pozzolengo is sold to restaurants and private individuals or used for the production of handmade pastries, jams and honey.

Another cultivation area of saffron is the region around Desenzano and Lonato in the southern part of Lake Garda. Here, the farmers produce high-quality saffron too.

Saffron lovers should take some home or enjoy the delectable dishes with saffron at the plenty of restaurants available.

Updated: 18/06/2019

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