All red Saffron – The Priciest Spice in the World
70,000 flowers are required to make 1 pound of Saffron. Picking the three small stigma of every flower is extremely labor-intensive, which makes it the priciest spice in the world. This spice comes from the Crocus plant, cultivated mainly in lands with long hot summer. Saffron grows in Middle east, Spain and India, the main states that export this spice. Some of the top quality Saffron comes from Middle east and India, but it’s also found in Morocco, Turkey and Egypt. This spice has a penetrating, highly aromatic and bitter taste. A very tiny amount will create the most vibrant golden color.
Defined as various aromatic or strongly flavored substances of vegetable origin, spices are usually extracted from tropical plants and usually utilized as condiments. They are generally dried barks, berries, seeds or roots. Herbs are usually described as the plant’s leafy parts used for flavoring. Saffron does not fall in these categories, but it’s cultivated in tropical places and it’s not a leafy matter, thus it’s classified as a spice. It’s also utilized as a dye, an aid to digestion and to scent perfumes.
Probably first grown in Asia Minor, this spice was utilized by the eastern Mediterranean ancient civilizations, the Romans and the Egyptians. Later, it was cultivated in Spain and in the 11th century, Saffron reached Germany, England and France. During this time, the spice had great business value. Powdered Saffron should be avoided as it’s easily adulterated with turmeric, pomegranate fibers, paprika and beets and even with the odorless, tasteless stamens of the Crocus flowers itself. Top quality Saffron is characterized with a deep color and lots of yellow stigmas lower its quality.
The flowers are harvested once the petals bloom late in fall. The stigmas are eliminated and dried. The spice is easy to utilize as its strong yellow pigment is water soluble. Usual Saffron substitutes are turmeric, safflower or annatto, although the flavors are really different. Some uses for this spice are in buns and breads, giving them a vibrant golden color. If aroma and color are desired in soups, Saffron is also good to use. This spice is a major ingredient in Spain’s paella, Italy’s risottos and France’s bouillabaisse. Saffron is also good with fish dishes. Aside from this, Saffron can be used as a coloring with its yellow gold color. It’s an ingredient in several liqueurs like chartreuse. All you need to do is to use your imagination and be creative with Saffron’s use. Also, keep in mind that you should only purchase it from a reliable store. Read reviews about the store and be sure to consider both the negative and positive reviews of the customers. You can also ask for any recommendations from friends who know a reliable store where you can buy quality Saffron.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the spice needs heat in order to reveal its flavor and it should also be soaked in water or any other warm liquid before being added to the dish. This will not only ensure that the flavor is released properly, but soaking the spice also guarantees that the color will be dispersed throughout.
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