Latvian Radio went to visit the Institute for Environmental Solutions' bed of saffron in Priekuli together with the Institute's executive director Inese Suija-Markova and the initiator of the idea, researcher Jessica Girardi.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because the harvest must be done by hand and only three stigmas can be obtained from one flower. To get one gram of saffron, one needs 150 flowers. The price of one kilogram reaches up to 10,000 euros.
Growing saffron in Latvia is currently only an experiment, and the first harvest is very small, but the researcher considers that it is possible. If this experiment succeeds, it can be a valuable benefit. “It's not a mission impossible, we like challenges,” Girardi said.
There are many other interesting experiments in the Institute's fields in Priekuļi, as explained by the executive director Suija-Markova.
"In the Institute for Environmental Solutions, one of the courses of research is the cultivation of medical and aromatic plants. Our scientific group examines both wild-harvested plants from our natural meadows, forest ecosystems, and imported plants. And then we transfer them to our experimental fields and learn to grow these plants. We are also studying the chemical composition of these plants. Of course, we are developing new products in cooperation with the industry. It's interesting to have plants that look more exotic for Latvia, such as ginseng. The fields are not only here, but also in the forest. We look at whether we can also grow more exotic plants under our circumstances. But for any of the plants being chosen, there is a thorough analysis of why that plant could be valuable," Suija-Markova said.
The Latvian saffron has already been tried out by chef Māris Jansons, baking the first Latvian saffron-cake.