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Szafran Izerski (Jizera Saffron) - cultivation and production of excellent quality saffron (Crocus Sativus). Sightseeing and shopping by appointment with Rafał Kotylak, a farmer with passion, who describes his adventure with saffron in such a way:
‘My adventure with saffron began in 2011, when I worked in Italy.
While working in the field, I was asked by one of the employees if we used saffron in Polish cuisine. I said yes, although I didn't know exactly what it was. On a day-off, my colleague checked what saffron was and when I heard CROCUS SATIVUS, I associated it with the crocus reserve in Górzyniec.
Górzyniec is a neighbourhood of Piechowice in the Jizera Mountains at an altitude of 475 m above sea level.
The area is under the protection of ‘Natura 2000’ as a bird habitat. These are formerly cultivated areas (cereals, potatoes) that were also used as pastures. Since the land had not been cultivated for 15 years, it had to be reclaimed for agriculture.
Later, the search for information about saffron started. When going back to Poland, I took the first bulbs with me.
For three years I had been unable to use the bulbs during the full vegetation cycle. It is become better since, although I am still learning and collecting information on how to improve the cultivation. We plant saffron in mid-August and we harvest it from mid-October to 10 November, although this period may vary. Recent years have seen droughts, which reduce the amount flowers. To produce a kilo of saffron we need 200 thousand flowers. In 2017, we harvested 40 thousand flowers and obtained 218 g of the final product.
At that time, I met Italian manufacturers from the Umbria and Marche regions. In Umbria you have places like Casia, Citta del Pieve and Marche -Piceno. Bulbs (15 thousand) arrived from Piceno, and I got a lot of information about the production from Umbria. Thanks to my friends in Piceno I got the address of the laboratory that tested the quality of our saffron according to ISO 3632. The results were very good. It is saffron of the first category.
Currently, it is the most expensive culinary spice. It has a specific honey and bitter taste. A few threads are enough to change the taste of a whole dish. Today, people ask me what saffron is. They look for information themselves and are interested in saffron and how to use it in the kitchen. We must remember to prepare the saffron properly before adding it to the dish.
Place the saffron threads in hot water (you can also use milk or stock), cover the cup and leave it for 3-5 hours until a warm orange colour appears. For a delicate taste, use 3-4 threads, and for a distinct one 6-7 threads per person. Too much saffron spoils the taste! The brew can be stored in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Saffron is used for rice, soups (broth), it blends very well with fish and seafood and it is used in confectionery and cheese production.