This story is part of, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Groceries are, and it pays to look for . One area of the grocery store that's always run up the bill, though, is the spice aisle. Those little jars pack a flavorful punch, but the cost can quickly add up. And no other spice will run up your grocery bill faster than saffron.
Saffron, the tiny red thread-like spice that comes in jars too big for it, will cost you or it might run to $1,000 per ounce. If you're looking to save money on groceries, you're likely cutting saffron out of your cooking arsenal.(sold in 0.035-ounce portions, for about $9 each). At a local grocery store,
Unless you're growing it yourself, which is surprisingly easy. The spice saffron is, in nature, part of the saffron crocus, a purple flower that looks a lot like the crocuses that greet a lot of people in the spring. Because the flower and the saffron threads, called stigma, are delicate, harvesting takes a bit of care, but isn't difficult for small amounts. (The huge amount of labor required to harvest saffron is actually a major reason it's so expensive.)
Read on for a rundown on growing, preserving and storing saffron and start saving money on groceries.
How to grow saffron at home
If you've grown crocuses, tulips or daffodils, you can grow saffron.crocuses that, because they bloom in the fall, are also known as autumn crocuses. Their cup-shaped blooms grow to about four inches above the ground among thin, dark green, grass-like leaves. They grow leaves without flowers in the spring, too.
They don't need a lot of water or much care, though they benefit from plenty of sunlight and a slightly sheltered growing site. I grow mine on a south-facing wall of my house which was good, if lucky, placement. With a level of care bordering on neglect, they keep coming back every year. Saffron crocuses grow well in .
Harvesting saffron is easy
When the crocuses bloom, they'll reveal three bright red threads inside. Those threads are the stigma, part of the plant's reproductive system and the thing you're after. Reach inside the flower with tweezers and pluck the threads out.
Let the the threads dry before storing them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place until you're ready to cook with them.
It may take a few years to grow enough saffron to recoup the cost of the bulbs, but not many. Leaving money out of it, saffron crocuses provide a yearly supply of delicious seasoning that's a luxury for most. And their pretty purple blooms are a reminder of spring just before heading into winter.
Now that you've dealt with the most expensive item on your grocery list, find more ways to, and . Check out more for ways to make your home more comfortable, affordable and fun.