The world’s most prized spice is also the world’s most expensive. This is due to the sheer amount of labor that goes into growing and preparing the spice. Saffron threads are actually stigmas of the saffron crocus, a violet-colored flower native to parts of Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean (though some growers now harvest it in the United States, Switzerland, and parts of Central America). Spain, however, is the world’s largest producer.
The tiny stigmas must be carefully plucked by hand from each flower. It takes around 15,000 flowers to produce a pound of saffron. However, after a light toasting the weight goes down to about 4 ounces. It’s this sheer amount of planting, land, hand-harvesting, and toasting – not to mention the flavor and perfume – that makes saffron so valuable.
The aroma is irreplaceable: musky, honeyed, floral, bitter, and fierce. You’ll find the perfume to be hypnotic. The flavor is penetratingly husky, earthy, with notes of honey and violet. The Spanish variety of saffron is by and far the most prized. Called azafran by the Spanish this variety is mellow, sweet, and floral.
|Taste & Aroma||Warm & Earthy|
|Cuisine||Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, North African, Spanish|
|Handling / Storage||Store saffron in a cool, dark place. Wrap in foil and place in an airtight container.|
|Shelf Life||Properly stored, saffron has a shelf-life of 3 - 4 years, after that and the potency starts to diminish.|
|Country of Origin||Spain|