Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice
Saffron is obtained from a plant native to Asia Minor called Crocus Sativus, also known as Rose of Saffron. For one gram of this spice about 140 roses are needed and harvesting is manual, justifying its high price. By contrast just about 3 to 4 strands of saffron are needed to flavour and give a beautiful yellow colour to your cooking. During the eighth century Arabs introduced the plant to Spain, where they were surprised with the results they got: a crocus of an intense and especially aromatic red. Spanish Saffron, which some call “red gold” acquired a reputation that endures today.
In the kitchen
It is the colouring power and aroma of Saffron that have made it an indispensable ingredient in the Mediterranean kitchen, utilised in many recipes such as paellas, risottos, sauces, soups, salads, stews, ice cream, pastries and tea.
To enjoy the full flavour and colour of Saffron, it is important the strands are thoroughly dry so they can easily be chopped into small pieces, where they will have a greater surface contact with the food to better infuse its qualities. A few strands of saffron (4-5) are enough for four people, not forgetting that spices should always be used sparingly.
Add a small pinch of salt to the Saffron and this will help you chop it into very small pieces.