What is pure saffron?
Being world's most expensive spices, pure saffron has an extensive history
of adulteration. It can be easily mixed with extraneous substances like
beet, pomegranate fibers, red-dyed silk fibers, or the saffron crocus's
tasteless and odorless yellow stamens. Pure saffron consists of only the
stigma of Crocus flower with no additions.
What is potent saffron?
The potency of saffron comes with the red portion of the stigma and not the
yellow portion, which is usually found in the lower grade. It is referred to
the strong aroma, bitter flavor and strong coloring capacity of the stigma.
A sample of saffron can be pure, but not necessarily potent. Saffron with
yellow portion of stigma is less potent than the same amount of saffron
composed entirely of the red portions of the Crocus stigma.
What are the signs of good quality saffron?
Good quality saffron is one, which has a powerful coloring capacity and a
pleasant aroma. The coloring capacity of the saffron comes from the red
portion of the stigma and not the yellow portion at the base, which is left
uncut in lower grade. Therefore good saffron has a long, distinct and
completely bright red stigma. The next criterion for identification of good
quality saffron is its aroma. Old saffron looses its pungent aroma and
sometimes it has no aroma at all. Hence a fresh and good quality saffron has
a pleasant aroma.
Please note that it does not mean that any pure saffron strand with some
yellow in it is not decent saffron. It is just not as potent as saffron that
is completely red. In fact, some people prefer saffron with yellow.
What makes saffron so expensive?
Saffron is a very precious spice because it belongs to a very rare species
of plant variety found only in a handful of geographic regions. Also, it is
labor intensive crop having very low yield per acre of land. Only 5-7 pounds
of saffron is harvested from each acre of land.
Which region of the world has best saffron?
Kashmir is blessed with perfect condition for saffron cultivation and it
produces the most potent saffron in the world. The saffron from this region
is considered to be the best for its long silky threads with a dark red
color. It has a pleasant aroma and its powerful coloring and flavoring
capabilities. It is the most expensive saffron available in the market.
How to use saffron?
Because saffron has an intense flavor and strong dying properties, very
little amount of saffron is required for culinary purposes. It can be
crushed to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. Powdered saffron is added
directly to the required ingredients of a dish.
In order to get the most out of saffron, it should be soaked in a little
warm water for 10 minutes before being added to food at the last stage of
cooking. This is effective and easy way to enhance the flavor, aroma and
color of the food.
How to store saffron?
Saffron must be stored in a cool dark place. It is customary to wrap
saffron in foil and place in a tin or jar with a tight fitting lid.