Saffron has come to be thought of as a super-luxe ingredient, the gold of the food industry. It's one of, if not the most expensive, spices in the world - and with an equally impressive taste profile.
Learn more about saffron, where it comes from, how to use it and ways to incorporate it into new recipes below:
Why is saffron expensive?
Extreme scarcity and manual labor, for starters! We're talking about delicate, crimson threads that are hand plucked from the inside of a crocus. One flower only contains three edible stigmas, and blooms for merely one week each year!
Where does saffron come from?
It was believed to have been originally cultivated in either Greece or Iran over four millennia ago. In fact, its first recorded history is in 7th-century BC. To this day, it is popular in those countries, along with India and Morocco.
How to Use Saffron
Saffron uses are varied, since it lends a fragrant, nuanced sweetness to both savory dishes and desserts. Some say it tastes like a cross between honey and hay.
Then there’s its vibrant, signature, orange hue, which adds a celebratory quality to everything it touches. Thankfully for your pocketbook, a little goes a long way, so you only really need a pinch.
Unsurprisingly, saffron is most commonly found in Persian, Indian, African and Mediterranean cuisines.
In fact, those regions pretty much provide a master class in how to use saffron, turning to it for both medicinal and religious purposes, as well as in natural fabric dyes.
When it comes to cooking with saffron, the spice pairs particularly well with rice:
It also works great in a crunchy Persian tachin, capped with a buttery saffron crust called tahdeeg.
But that’s only a jumping off point as far as saffron recipes are concerned.
It’s great in stews, such as Moroccan Chicken Tagine. Stir it straight into the sauce, so the flavor, aroma and color fully permeates throughout!
We’re particularly fond of adding saffron to breakfast and dessert items too:
• Potato and Saffron Omelet (it’s really great with blank slates, such as potatoes and eggs)
• Saffron Panna Cotta
• Saffron Biscuits (a kind of crunchy cookie)
• Sour Cream Cake with Saffron Orange Glaze