Also Known as
Kesar, Zaafaran, zaafran, safron
Saffron is a very expensive spice, used to flavor and color food. The spice is actually the dried stigma (tiny threadlike strands) of the Crocus Sativus Linneaus, a member of the iris family. Each stigma is very small, and tens of thousands of individual strands go into a single ounce of the spice; since the stigmas are hand-plucked from the individual flowers, saffron's high cost becomes more understandable. It is thought that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
Saffron originated in the Middle East, but is now also associated with Greek, Indian and Spanish cuisines. Fortunately, a very little saffron goes a long way - it is a spice to be added one thread at a time.
How to Select
Do some research where you live regarding who is selling saffron. As the retailers what the coloring strength is of the saffron they are selling. Confirm on the quality and then purchase.
· Just a thread or two can flavor and color an entire pot of rice.
· Masala Milk is one delicacy which is coloured and flavoured with saffron, further enhanced with nuts. The flavor is distinctive.
· Most 'saffron rice' mixes commercially available actually use a substitute which dyes the rice the distinctive yellow but which does not impart the flavor of true saffron.
· The threads mix well with a blend of roasted veggies and poultry for color and a little flavor.
· It's pretty to use and goes with most any savory dish in my opinion.
· When working with saffron threads, avoid using a whisk. When working with threads or powder, avoid using wooden utensils, which tend to absorb the saffron.
· Don't worry about using saffron to flavor more than one dish being served at the same meal.
· Saffroned croutons in the salad, for example, or a Saffroned grain dish can accompany a saffron-flavored soup.
How to Store
Good saffron has the longest shelf life of any ingredient Store your saffron airtight, away from light so it stays potent for a long time and you don't waste any.
· Saffron is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine, India's traditional system of health that relies on natural products, prevention and balance.
· It is used in remedies for everything from arthritis and asthma to infertility and impotence.
· Saffron enjoys a great reputation as a drug which strengthens the functioning of stomach and promotes its action.
· It is a great stimulant.