Saffron might have an exotic taste, but it grows just around the corner: it has been produced in Touraine ever since the Middle Ages!
Saffron is a precious spice: 150 000 hand-picked crocus flowers only give 1 kilo of saffron. Once harvested, you have to take the pistil of the flower and dry it. One gram of saffron produced in France costs between 20 and 30 euros. But you only need a pinch to flavour an entire meal.
Today, the association of saffron growers of Touraine groups around twenty small producers.
The asparagus is an emblematic vegetable of the territory. It grows on the sandy soils of the Park, mainly in the Anjou region (Baugé-en-Anjour, Anjou valley, Saumur) but also in Touraine (Richelieu and Bourgueil). Harvest takes place between March and mid-June. Asparagus are hand-picked on a close to daily basis which needs an important workforce.
90% of the production is made of white asparagus. Surprisingly, white, purple and green asparagus all come from the same variety. The colour depends on their exposure to light.
7 million rose bushes are produced in Doué-la-Fontaine every year. You are in the French and even European capital of roses. The rose plantations developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the 50 nursery owners of Doué-la-Fontaine assure about half of the French production!
Every year in July, a festival called “Journées de la Rose” celebrates this tradition. You can then find flowers are all over the arena of Doué-la-Fontaine.
How could we possibly talk about local products without mentioning black truffles? It has been grown around Richelieu since the 18th century and later on in the whole region thanks to limestone soils.
Today, the annual production of Touraine truffles is about one ton. It is mainly cultivated between Marigny-Marmande and Richelieu, but also around Chinon. Harvest takes place in winter with the aid of truffle dogs.
If you want to taste this “black diamond”, pay a visit to the famous truffle market of Marigny-Marmande.
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