At the end of October, beginning of November, the flowers are collected daily by hand and first thing in the morning so that the sun does not damage the saffron. It is important that the flower is cut to the exact height that prevents separation of the stigma. In addition, the flowers have to be kept free of dirt or other debris.
The saffron flower is very fragile and has to be treated with great care and without piling it up inside the basket. Once collected they are immediately taken to be processed.
La ‘Monda’ de la Flor
The word ‘Monda’ or peel, is a typical expression used in the saffron production, and consists of separating the stigmas from the flowers. Only those clean flowers with no foreign remains are chosen for saffron with PDO de la Mancha. The flower must be processed within 12 hours after being collected so that it does not lose its properties. One of the characteristics of saffron PDO de la Mancha is that the stigmas, 3 of them, are attached.
Once the flower is ‘peeled’, it is toasted. The stigmas are placed in containers that are placed on top of a heat source. In the past, charcoal heat was used, although today an electrical system is chosen. The temperature ranges between 60º and 80º, depending on the humidity, for about 40 to 45 minutes. If necessary they twist and twirl them around to get an even toasting.
Once toasted, the strands are allowed to cool down to room temperature and are placed in a bag suitable for being in contact with food products. Said bag, in turn, is placed inside a container that can be hermetically closed and stored in a cool place protected from heat, humidity and sun (for this reason, KUMAfood packs its saffron in ceramic jars …)
Exclusively the saffron from the previous season is packaged. I.e., the saffron collected in 2020 is packaged in 2021.
For it to be PDO saffron from La Mancha, the product must meet the specifications. One of the characteristics of saffron PDO de la Mancha is that they are never packaged in quantities that exceed 100 grams.
Saffron from La Mancha is preferably consumed 3 years after being packaged. In other words, the 2020 harvest saffron is optimal for consumption until 2024 !!!