Saffron

drawing of saffron flower

Saffron

(CROCUS SATIVUS)

The pricey, but worth it, dried stigma of a crocus flower

Saffron is infamously the most expensive spice in the world, but for a good reason. Each saffron crocus flower produces just three stigmas and it takes 150 plants to yield only 1 gram of saffron. Saffron is also requires farmers to pick the flowers and later pluck the stigmas out by hand, which also contributes to the high price. Historically, it is said that saffron first appeared in Western Asia, but was cultivated for use in Greece and Persia. It has been used for thousands of years to dye clothes, treat illnesses, and for flavoring food.

Flavor & Aroma

With its hay-like scent and floral, slightly sweet notes, and intense color, saffron has found its way into many of our blends where it adds deep complexity. It's best enjoyed in cooked applications rather than in raw, cold dishes. Oftentimes, to extract the most color and flavor, it is steeped in warm liquid and that is used to flavor dishes. It's extremely delicious, but keep in mind that a little goes a long way!

When buying saffron, look for a uniform red color and whole stamens without powder or broken pieces in the packaging.

Origin

Native to Western Asia and the Mediterranean and cultivated in parts of India, Europe, and the Middle East

Harvest Season

Crocus bulbs are planted by hand in June and the three red stigmas of each purple flower are manually harvested in the fall when the flowers bloom. 

Usage Ideas

1. Confit salmon fillets in warm olive oil with saffron stamens.

2. Infused simmering milk with saffron stamens and a few minced garlic cloves to enrich a potato gratin.

3. In a blender, purée warmed sautéed apricots with saffron stamens and a splash of brandy for a sweet dessert sauce.

Other Pairings

Gin and tonic • Carb bisque • Apple aioli • Fennel purée • Panna cotta • Paella • Risotto alla Milanese

Recipes Using Poppy

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Saffron
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