Saffron - How To Use
(Also known as Red Gold)
Grassy, Bitter and Honeyed, the most expensive spice in the world is Saffron, the dried yellow stigmas of the saffron crocus flower. Always look for vibrant red strands, as duller red or brown colours may donate to stale. Saffron imparts an intense yellow colour to a dish while also emitting a strong perfume and a delicate flavour. Although doubts remain on its origin, evidence suggests that Saffron originated from Iran, albeit Greece and Mesopotamia might argue otherwise. trade and use of saffron date back thousands of years, with early recording beginning in the 7th Century AD.
Iran is the largest producer (90%) of the world's saffron production, with Greece holding the second position. Countries like Azerbaijan have increased saffron production as of 2020. Sales to countries such as the United Arab Emirates accounted for the largest share of Azerbaijan's saffron exports since the beginning of 2020. Saffron has a warm, musky smell like freshly cut hay with a mild metallic note. A little pinch goes a long way.
Part of the Iris family, saffron is an excellent source of minerals and often used in tea.
- Just 6,000 flowers and 12 hours of labour will give you 30g or 1 oz of saffron. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid ground saffron as it is hard to know if it is genuine.
- Saffron has been around since the Bronze age, prized for millenniums. Historical hieroglyphical evidence suggests that Cleopatra bathed in saffron-scented mare's milk.
- The Essex town of Saffron Walden gets its name from the said spice that grew there. Saffron is still grown in the UK to this day in Essex and Devon, where it is said to have a sweeter honey-like taste.
- La Mancha in Spain has EU protected status for its prized saffron.
- Saffron's modern name derives from the Arabic for yellow.
- Saffron has long been used to dye textiles. Buddhist priests have long worn yellow robes dyed with saffron.
Chief flavour profile
Picrocrocin: (musky, earthy, warm and bitter) the picrocrocin compound and the safranal compound are both unique to saffron. Their qualities and their potency mean less is more. The bitterness of saffron compliments and balances other potent compounds that come from caraway, paprika and black pepper to balance the overall complete taste. Saffron dissolves better in water than oil, allowing time for the flavour to escape and elevate.
Blends to try with Saffron
Advieh-E KHORESH £8.95
Great Taste Award winner-2022. This deluxe balanced and sumptuous blend has multipurpose use. It boasts luxurious saffron as the main ingredient. The name saffron derives from the Arabic ‘za'faran’, meaning 'yellow'. As we know with saffron, a little of this blend goes a long way, adding incredible depth. Alongside the rose petal, black lime and other spice alchemy, this well-rounded Adiveh-E Khoresh has a signature aromatic scent and unique taste. Add to stews, casseroles, grilled meats, tray bakes, risotto and vegetables.