Common Names: Saffron, Autumn crocus, Spanish saffron
Saffron is an aromatic spice derived from the stigmas of the Saffron crocus or Crocus sativus The red-gold stigmas are also known as saffron threads. Because of their delicate construction, saffron threads are often harvested by hand.
One of many spices with a long history of use, saffron is native to southwest Asia, but was first cultivated in regions of Greece, Persia and India. Saffron was so highly regarded, references to it appear in ancient, biblical and medieval writings from Asia minor throughout Europe.
Possessing a number of applications, this spice is used for cooking and seasoning. In addition, saffron is also used in the creation of perfumes and fabric dyes.
When used for food seasonings, saffron has a distinctive, slightly bitter taste and an earthy, hay-like aroma. It also contains crocin, a carotenoid dye that gives food a warm golden hue. Like many organic spices, the flavor of saffron is most robust for soon after harvest. It should be used for cooking within 3 to 6 months. To prolong saffron's potency as long as possible, store in a cool, dry environment, away from direct sunlight. As it has a potent flavor, saffron is best when used in small amounts for food seasonings. In this way, it enhances the flavors of a dish.
Directions: Steep in hot water before adding to food. For 1 tsp. of Saffron, use 3 tsp. of liquid.