Saffron crop in Spain is 1/2 the quantity from last year due to dry weather.
Saffron, pronounced “SAF-ruhn”, is considered the world’s most expensive spice and is obtained from the stigmas of the flower of Crocus Sativus Linnaeus (a genus in the family Iridaceae). Saffron is also known as Rose of Saffron or Saffron Crocus.
With a long rich history dating back to 1600 BC, true saffron is considered a domesticated plant that has only a few related species growing in the wild. This makes it difficult to pin point its origins, but it is believed to be native to the area known as Asia Minor (the westernmost protrusion of Asia, which makes up the majority of what today is the Republic of Turkey).
How much top quality saffron can be obtained from the flowers? The numbers are a little staggering. With only 3 stigmas per saffron flower it takes over 4,600 flowers (or 14,000 stigmas) to produce just one ounce of top grade saffron.
The saffron crocus blooms in the fall, producing fragrant, purple flowers 1” to 2” long. The flower produces three stigmas of saffron (sometimes called filaments), the three stigmas are attached to a white slender style, which, when dried, turns a pale yellow. If the style remains attached to the red stigmas, it will add 30%-50% dead weight to the saffron, which you end up paying for. Why exactly is that bad? The style provides no aroma, color or culinary value – it is basically just filler.
The harvesting of saffron takes place from the end of October to the beginning of November. The rose of saffron blooms at dawn and once opened, should be picked the same day because once the flower opens it withers quickly and the stigmas lose their optimum aroma and color. This is why experienced saffron farms typically harvest the flowers between dawn and 10 a.m.
Once the flowers are picked, the stigmas or threads are carefully separated from the rest of the flower. The stigmas are then dried over heat to remove moisture and lock in the highest quality saffron (aroma, color and flavor) possible.
Saffron must be grown in an extreme climate where it is dry and hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Where your saffron comes from and who packs it is where the real quality of the saffron comes into play. Saffron is grown primarily in Italy, Spain, Kashmir (the region between India, Pakistan and China), Morocco and Iran.
Our saffron is harvested in Spain and is pure, select mancha grade (catagory 1) .
You should protect your Saffron from light and moisture to maintain its superior quality and so we highly recommended that you store your saffron threads in an air-tight jar out of direct light and away from heat.
In order to get your money's worth with saffron you should understand how to make “saffron tea” instead of just adding saffron threads to your recipe. A saffron tea is also known as "steeping" saffron. Think of it exactly as you would when making any tea - the longer your saffron steeps, the stronger its aroma, color and flavor will be. Saffron’s full flavor can be released effectively in hot liquid such as broth, milk, water or at room temperature with citrus juice, orange blossom water, rosewater, vodka, white wine or white vinegar.
The amount of liquid used is not critical and if your recipe doesn’t call for broth, milk, citrus juice, orange blossom water, rosewater, vodka, white wine or white vinegar than as little as one or two teaspoons of hot water will be fine. Add the saffron threads either whole or grind them together with your fingers and add to the liquid for at least 20 minutes before you add this "saffron tea" to your recipe. Don’t remove the saffron threads from the liquid as they will continue to release saffron’s signature aroma, color and flavor for up to 24 hours.
We’ve found that leftovers with saffron are even more flavorful because of this continued infusing process. You’ll also find that by making your own “saffron tea” and by using our highest quality Category I saffron that just a little goes a long way.
So how much saffron should you use? Most great chefs believe saffron is more about the aroma than the taste and if you can taste the saffron in a dish, you've added too much. A good rule of thumb is to use about three strands a person which is a little more than half a teaspoon. There are approximately 463 threads (3/8” to ½” in length) per gram of saffron so 1 gram would yield approximately 150 servings.
Use Saffron with carrots, chicken, eggs, rice, spinach, and winter squash. Saffron works well in combination with anise, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, nutmeg, paprika and pepper.
THIS IS THE HIGHEST QUALITY YOU CAN GET! GREAT FLAVOR AND AROMA WILL KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF.
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