Saffron harvest in the Ourika Valley

Once in awhile a break from routine is necessary.

On this day out in the Ourika Valley that’s just what we did. We wandered amongst the gardens and saffron crocus fields. And sipped mint tea under the olive trees and date palms.

Saffron Gardens Ourika Valley Morocco Copyright Mandy Sinclair

Copyright Mandy Sinclair

Ate a breakfast of local in-season fruits and dipped our freshly baked bread in newly pressed olive oil.

Saffron Gardens Ourika Valley Morocco Copyright Mandy Sinclair

Copyright Mandy Sinclair

We learned about the saffron harvest that recently took place involving approximately 65 women from the local village who gathered each morning from 7 a.m. Once the saffron crocuses were collected, the women gathered around small wooden tables to separate the red stigma from the rest of the flower. Then the stigmas (the part which produces the saffron) are machine-dried to avoid exposure to dust and too much sunlight which damages and reduces the quality of the saffron and then stored in a cool place in air-tight containers before it goes to market. And with a sudden cold snap followed by unseasonably warm temperatures, only two kilograms of saffron were harvested this year, Miloud the manager of Saffron Gardens explained to me. After all, it takes 115 flowers to produce one gram of saffron.

Saffron harvest Ourika Valley Copyright Mandy Sinclair

Copyright Mandy Sinclair

And then we hopped back on the bus, slightly more knowledgeable, slightly more relaxed, and ready to face the hustle and bustle of Marrakech!

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