Carolyne Kauser-AbbottLocal Food Producers in ProvenceTaste: Food & Drink

Farm Visit to le Moulin de Jarjayes Understanding Saffron in Provence

In October, the Provencal sun takes its time rising above the horizon, like an old dog mentally weighing the effort of its next move. In the Jabron Valley, at 600 meters, about 10 kilometres from Sisteron, autumn mornings can be particularly frosty with single digit temperatures. However, the saffron harvest at le Moulin de Jarjayes cannot wait for warmer weather the tiny purple-hued crocus blooms only last a few hours.

Saffron Harvest Provence #TastesofProvence @PerfProvence

The Jabron Valley is a perfect place for a getaway with activities for sportive types (mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, trail running and more). And, for those interested in gourmet products many family-run operations are producing high-quality lamb, honey, legumes (lentils, chickpeas), grains and truffles.

Vallee de Jabron #ExplorefProvence @PerfProvence

The Jabron Valley’s rolling fields are a glimpse of Provence from a more pastoral era, a time before mega-outlet malls and online shopping. The local population had to survive Mother Nature’s moods and cultivate the land regardless of what she delivered; in an area that can experience annual temperature swings of 50˚C from the coldest to hottest days.

The Parish of Jarjayes finds its way into recorded history starting in 928, although there were inhabitants in the area well before organised religion. The old mill in the village dated from 1070 and remained in operation until 1940.

The Bouchet family has been farming in the area for several generations. Their focus now is on growing seasonal fruit including strawberries and raspberries, and cultivating the saffron of Provence.

Saffron Harvest Provence #TastesofProvence @PerfProvence

Despite the 600m altitude, there is little relief from the sun in August, and managing a field of 12,000 crocus bulbs is backbreaking work. From mid-October to mid-November the flowers are harvested in the morning, the threads (styles and stigmata of the flower) are delicately separated, from the petals, and then dehydrated a process that takes roughly 35 minutes, after which the stigma are packaged and ready for sale.

Saffron Harvest Provence #TastesofProvence @PerfProvence

Saffron like grapes, milk and other natural products is impacted by terroir. Apparently, crocuses grown in North Africa will produce saffron that has a slightly different colour and aroma from that grown in Haute Provence. This spice is the one of the most expensive in the world due to the intensely laborious production process. There are roughly four flowers for each bulb, and each bloom has three stigmas. It takes about 200-220 flowers to produce 1 gram of saffron (or between 150-200,000 flowers for 1 kilogram).

Saffron Harvest Provence #TastesofProvence @PerfProvence

When you buy saffron, look for threads, not powdered versions as there is no guarantee what you are buying with the powder. The Safraniers de Provence is your quality assurance that the bulbs were procured from the organisation and that the farming operation has been audited by the association to meet the high-quality standards set within Provence.

Saffron Harvest Provence #TastesofProvence @PerfProvence

Elisabeth and Jean-Luc Bouchet began this project a little over two years ago after much consideration as to what to do with a tiny parcel of land. The start-up capital investment for a saffron grower is primarily the bulbs; the rest is sweat equity. The couple’s passion for the spice is evident they would like to encourage visitors to come to the farm to gain an understanding of saffron. Click here for their contact information and to arrange a visit.

For delivery in Europe, you can order saffron online from le Moulin de Jarjayes.

One Gram of Saffron #TastesofProvence @PerfProvence

Wondering what to make with that precious saffron? Bouillabaisse, paella or any of Elisabeth’s recipes such as the delicious cake pictured below.

Saffron Cake #TastesofProvence @PerfProvence

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride was at six-months old, her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

2 Comments

  1. November 2, 2016 at 9:34 am — Reply

    Merci pour ce regard attentif sur notre belle Vallée…

    • CKAdmin
      November 2, 2016 at 6:40 pm — Reply

      Merci Yvon d’avoir partagé vos photos de la récolte de safran (partagé sur notre page Facebook).

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