What is the saffron spice?
What is the legendary Red Gold spice exactly?
If you have ever tried eastern foods, you probably wondered what’s the secret behind their delicious tastes. Although eastern people are kind and generous, they won’t tell you the one secret that gives the color and flavour of their food. But today, I want to reveal that! The secret lies behind a unique and rare spice called “the Red Gold;” or to be more specific, saffron.
What is saffron spice exactly? Where does it come from? How is it used? What health benefits does it have? How much does it cost? That’s exactly what we are going to lay out in this article. Keep reading to find out more!
What is saffron spice?
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. During a period in the past, saffron even cost more than gold! That’s why they call it the Red Gold. Saffron comes from a flower called crocus sativus which is commonly known as the saffron crocus. This purple flower grows in semi-cold and dry climates.
Each flower contains three thread-like red strands; saffron. This herb is so delicate that farmers need to do all the processes, from planting to harvesting, by hand. So, growing and harvesting saffron in large quantities is not easy at all. On the other hand, it doesn’t grow in any condition. If the weather is too hot, cold, humid, or dry, the plant will damage.
That’s why only a few countries around the world, mostly eastern countries, can grow and harvest this precious spice. Many eastern cuisines use this reddish spice to flavour their foods. But mostly, it’s been used in Persian, Arab, Greek, Indian, and some European cuisine.
Where does saffron originally come from?
Saffron originally comes from Iran. And, currently, over 90% of the world’s saffron is exported from Iran. However, some believe that saffron was first discovered in Greece. As this golden-coloured spice has been used over centuries, no one really knows where it comes from. No historical evidence is available to determine where saffron originally comes from.
However, Persian cuisine was the first to discover “what is saffron spice?” and “how can we use saffron.” Additionally, the majority of the world’s saffron comes from Iran and the signature of saffron has been an inseparable part of Iranian cuisine throughout history. With all that, we assume the world’s most spice originally comes from the ancient country, Iran.
In addition to Iran and Greece, Morocco, India, and Spain grow and cultivate saffron.
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What color is saffron?
As you learned so far, the saffron flower is purple while the stigmas inside it are dark red. In many cultures, including Iranian culture, people use the flower to make tea and other drinks; which will impart a sandstorm color to your drinks.
Surprisingly, the reddish stigmas also make a golden-yellow color when infused with water. If you have ever seen images of golden yellow rice on the internet, now you know those are saffron rice.
Many also use saffron to color their hair or clothes. On hair or clothing, it imparts a bright, buttery yellow-orange hue.
What is a saffron spice used for?
By now, you probably know that people use saffron in different dishes around the world. It gives a slightly sweet taste and an enigmatic aroma to whatever it touches. However, saffron is not just famous because of how it tastes or smells, but for many benefits it has.
Saffron has been used in the medical industry for centuries. Scientists have found that saffron has a chemical that can kill cancer cells! It can also change your mood. People have shown signs of happiness and better mood after eating foods or drinking beverages made with saffron.
Saffron’s many uses caused people around the world to beg the question: what is saffron spice exactly?
There is no limit to what you can make with saffron; from cakes and drinks to foods, desserts and whatever you name it. saffron is basically the best medicine, natural coloring, spice, fragrance, herb and so on you can find on this planet.
How to use saffron?
Enough with what is saffron spice and its uses. Let’s see how you can use this precious spice in your foods and drinks. Believe it or not, using saffron is pretty easy. Many people who don’t know how to use saffron always complain it doesn’t impart the yellowish hue as it is supposed to. If you are struggling with the same problem, it’s because you are not infusing it the right way.
First, you should take 2 tsp of saffron strands and put them in a mortar. Then grind up saffron with a pestle until you get a reddish powder. Then add 3 tablespoons of hot liquid, such as water, broth, or stock, and cover the bowl. Let it soak for 5 minutes, then add 2 or 3 cubes of ice.
You can use saffron water immediately or store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for a week. You can also store saffron threads in dry and dark places for up to a year.
What does saffron taste like?
Well, what saffron tastes like highly depends on what you make with it. In drinks, such as saffron tea or syrup, it tastes a bit sweet like honey. In dishes, such as rice, chicken, and beef, it has an enigmatic taste.
Overall, describing what saffron tastes like is tricky. But, you’ll notice the taste as soon as you try it. because it has taste like nothing in the world. So, you’ll know the difference when you taste it. on the other hand, if your saffron tastes bitter as if you are eating plastic, it’s not good quality saffron or has something mixed up in it.
To avoid that, never buy cheap saffron as it does not exist!
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Where can I purchase saffron?
Where you can buy saffron highly depends on where you live. You can purchase saffron from Amazon or other local websites. Also, if there is a Middle Eastern grocery store or Persian store nearby, you’ll probably find saffron there.
However, after we answered “What is saffron spice?” in this article, you know that not all saffron available out there have good quality. So, make sure you buy it from well-known importers if your country doesn’t cultivate it locally. Make sure to purchase saffron threads, not the powdered kind.
Powder saffron stocked in the market tends to lose its flavour and aroma quite fast. Also, real saffron will turn the water into a yellowish color while the strands keep their red color. But fake saffron will impart a red color when soaked in water and lose its color entirely. You can do an experiment or two to make sure you are using real, high-quality saffron.
How much does saffron cost?
Real saffron will cost around $9 or so per gram. It means that each kilogram of saffron will cost you 9,000 USD. Although you can also find less expensive saffron on the market, it won’t be real or good quality saffron.
So, if you want to try the real taste of this sweet precious spice, you have to pay the price!