Known as the red heart of Montalcino, crimson saffron (orzafferano in Italian) and has been cultivated in the Val d’Orcia since the Middle Ages. There are records of saffron from Clemente Santi of Montalcino being awarded the Agricultural Exhibition prize as far back as 1857.
This red gold, as once called, is cultivated from the crocus plant. The labor-intensive process involves handpicking the stigmas from each flower. The stigmas are then spread on trays and dried. You need 120,000 to 150,000 flowers to make 1 kilogram of saffron!
There is now a local supplier of saffron in the heart of Montalcino – Pura Crocus. I met with Massimo Bindi of Pura Crocus. His family began with a few pounds of bulbs from his great-grandparents. These bulbs had been passed down for generations. When you first enter Massimo’s shop, situated on a winding road just a few minutes outside the village, you can smell the beautiful pungent smell of the saffron. He proudly displays the wonderful array of saffron products he produces – from gorgeous packages of pure organic saffron to saffron laced honey, biscotti, tea, and beer. All incredibly delicious!
Pura Crocus harvests their plants between October and November but only in the early hours of the morning as the flower must still be closed. On the same day that the stigma is harvested, they select only the most intensely colored part of the stigma, a process taught to them by their grandparents. This ensures the highest quality product.
The plants require clay soil, rich in minerals which are easily found in the soil of the Val d’Orcia. The dry, sunny weather of Tuscany contributes to the development of the plant. At Pura Crocus, their plants are dug up after the second or third blossom and planted in new soil during the month of August. This prevents the soil from becoming too depleted which causes illnesses and poor yield. Each year, as the bulbs emerge, they multiply. A labor intensive process indeed.
To chat with Massimo is to see pure love for nature and his product in action.
Massimo's pride for what he is producing beams through – and his saffron and saffron-infused products are incredible.
His family’s work is a true labor of love. We are working with Massimo to bring his special products to the US.