The red gold of Mund
Saffron has been highly popular throughout Europe ever since the Renaissance, and there has been a busy trade in the product. It appears from documentary records that saffron has been used and traded in Switzerland since at least the 15th century. But what about the growing of saffron? Legend has it that saffron has been grown in the village of Mund since the 14th century without interruption. AOP Mund saffron is a spice from Mund, the last remaining village in Switzerland to grow saffron. While the quantity produced is very small, just two to three kilos a year, its reputation goes far beyond the boundaries of Valais. Starting in 1977, the residents of the village have been doing everything they can to keep on growing saffron, and they have succeeded in preserving the crop and actually raising production. This has made the village entirely unique in the Alps, with a good one-and-a-half hectares (14,000 square metres) of land devoted to saffron cultivation.
Facts and figuresProduction
2 to 3 kg are produced each year in Mund
Facts and figures14,000 sq. m of land
(a little less than a hectare and a half) are devoted to this harvest
Facts and figuresEach flower gives 3 threads
(styles plus stigmata); 180 flowers are needed to produce 1 g of saffron
Facts and figuresMund Saffron
To buy Mund saffron, customers must go in person to the village
Facts and figuresRed gold
Saffron is also known as “red gold” because of the painstaking work required to produce it and its resulting high value. 1 kg costs about CHF 15,000.-
Facts and figuresCultivation
Cultivation of saffron in Mund dates back to the 14th Century Mund saffron acquired the AOP label in 2004
Facts and figuresHealth benefits
Saffron not only adds colour and taste to food, it also has medicinal uses. It is an antioxidant, flavour enhancer and is said to have anti-cancer properties.
Season: the harvest takes place in October/November
Composition: saffron comes from one species of flower, Crocus sativus L
Storage: in a dry place, away from the light. Keeps several months
Area of origin: saffron is produced within the municipality of Mund, a small village on the northern slopes of the Rhône valley, above Naters
All the work related to the cultivation, harvest and drying of the threads is carried out by hand. The plants may only be cultivated in the ground, and the use of genetically modified bulbs is forbidden.
Harvesting and drying are long, delicate operations that need to take place at a specific time. Flower harvesting must be carried out swiftly. After blossoming at dawn, the flowers wilt quickly during the course of the same day. Whole families are therefore mobilised to carry out this collective work, which explains why this expertise has been handed down from one generation to the next – since at least 1870.
How to enjoy
To taste genuine Mund saffron, you have to travel in person to the village to buy the spice or enjoy it at the village restaurant in different forms: saffron bread, saffron rice, iced parfait flavoured with saffron or in distilled alcohol.
Saffron is also delicious in risotto, soup or a sauce to accompany asparagus.