What is Saffron?
Saffron is among the most sought-after spices available. The red stigmas that resemble threads and the yellow hue they give off are almost a matter of legend. What is saffron specifically? No matter how many stories have been related about the spice, many of us don’t know what we can do with it or whether it’s worth the cost. Here’s the answer to your what is saffron question.
Where is saffron Originated?
The spice is derived from a flower known as Crocus in sativus–commonly called “saffron Crocus.” Saffron is thought to have been the first to be discovered and was initially cultivated in Greece. However, most of the spices are harvested across Iran, Greece, Morocco and India. While a micro-scale production process of saffron is possible across America United States, most saffron can be found in the United States if imported.
Also read: Iranian Saffron Types
What Does Saffron Taste Like?
Saffron provides a slightly earthy flavor that’s described as astringent or fruity. It’s a subtle flavor that can be disguised in recipes that use stronger spices.
Cooking With Saffron
Threads of saffron should be crushed before use in cooking recipes. To grind saffron, it is recommended to begin with saffron threads. Then, gently toast them and then grind the threads yourself. Make sure not to overheat them, or they’ll not be usable. Most recipes require only a small amount of saffron. So a small amount can go a long way.
A common mistake is to make saffron threads steep in the cooking liquid before making use of the cooking liquid. The longer you soak the saffron threads, the more intense the flavor and hue of your cooking liquid. A few frugal cooks simmer saffron threads, then use the liquid to make the recipe, then dry them and reuse the threads the next time.
Also read: How to make Saffron Pudding
Unfortunately, there isn’t another saffron-based substitute that can be compared to it. Its distinct taste is essential for traditional dishes like paella and Bouillabaisse. Make sure to use authentic ingredients to achieve the desired outcome. But paprika or turmeric could be used to provide the color supplied by the saffron. You should use turmeric sparingly to substitute for saffron since its bitter flavor could easily take over the food.
Also read: Saffron vs Turmeric
Where to Buy Saffron
Saffron can be found in a well-stocked supermarket. However, it’s usually not on the shelves, which can attract thieves. It could be located inside a secured cabinet within the spice aisle, or you’ll need to inquire at the service desk.
It is recommended to purchase threads of saffron instead of ground saffron. This is because it’s simpler to spot counterfeits and ensure you get the authentic saffron you pay for. Powdered saffron isn’t as powerful; it can lose its flavor and be easily contaminated using fillers and fakes.
Because saffron requires such a small amount, you can find ground saffron in packs of 1/16 teaspoon and threads that equal around 1/4 gram or 1/2 of 1 teaspoon. Even these small quantities will usually enhance the flavor of more than one dish.
It is also possible to purchase saffron from the internet. However, you should be cautious about any offers. If the price is significantly lower than other spice retailers, It could not be authentic saffron.
Saffron threads can hold their full flavor for up to 6 months if stored in an airtight container. Place your container within a dark, cool area, as with other spices and herbs that are vulnerable to sunlight, which is why you should wrap the bag in foil to safeguard it further. It won’t spoil, but it’ll lose more flavor as it ages. If you purchase ground saffron, it must be stored in the same manner, but you must use it as soon as possible because it’s likely to have diminished in its potency.
Why is Saffron So Expensive?
Each flower only produces 3 threads (stigmas) of saffron, and it blooms for just one week every year. Saffron must be picked–by hand!–in the middle of the morning when the flowers remain closed to shield the delicate stigmas within. It takes around 1,000 flowers to create one ounce of saffron. This is why you’ll have to pay anywhere from $10 to $13 per gram to get genuine. To ensure you’re getting only the best look around for Saffron that smells like sweet Hay. It should also have red stigmas and no yellow stamens.