Saffron is derived from the flower "saffron(crocus) sativus." Originally discovered and being used for cooking and medicinal purposes in Arabia, Southeast Asia, India and other areas in the East. During the 8th century saffron was brought to Spain and cultiviated in the warm Spanish environment.
Saffron thrives in the mediterranean climates where hot,dry summer breezes sweep semi-arid lands. Saffron aroma is often described as grassy with earthy notes and sweet. Saffron also contributes to the luminous yellow-orange coloring of foods.
Iran produces 94% of the world's saffron, followed by Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan,Morocco and Italy.
Spanish Saffron offers two tradenames to look for when purchasing high end Saffron: "Spanish Superior" & "Spanish Creme." Both products are mellower in color,aroma and flavor over the Iranian saffron.
The reason for the expensive price: A pound (454 grams) of dry saffron requires 50,000 to 100,000 flowers and 40 hours of labor. Each flower only contains three stigmas and must be picked carefully by hand.
The US produces a very tiny amount of saffron known as "Pennsylvania Dutch Saffron." The Dutch saffron is known for its earthy notes.
Did you know that Cleopatra,Queen of Egypt, used Saffron in her baths so that lovemaking would be more pleasureable.
Their are saffron strands and saffron powders. Chefs have told me that Saffron strands offer better flavor. You be the judge, pick up saffron as a strand and powder, use very little, its expensive and let me know how your meal came out or invite me over, I'll bring the wine.
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Have fun cooking!