Fortunately for foodies this commonly held belief is no longer true, but at almost £7 per gram Saffron is still far from cheap! In this week’s blog we take a quick look at Saffron’s history and show you why it is so highly prized….. and priced!
• What is it: The dried stigma of the Saffron Crocus- Crocus Sativus
• First cultivated in: Egypt and Asia Minor
• Grown in: Spain and Iran (Commercially)
• Found in which SimplyCook recipe kit: Spanish Seafood & Chorizo Paella
• Interesting fact: it is the most expensive spice in the world
From bouillabaisse to biryani, Saffron is commonly used throughout the world in many iconic dishes. Its pungent flavour imparts an aromatic and slightly bitter quality and gives food a distinctive yellow-orange colour. Although it is most widely used as a seasoning and colouring agent, Saffron has also had many other historical uses. In India and China It is often used as a fabric dye, in perfumery and religious rituals. There are also many medicinal qualities associated with saffron, its proposed anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant qualities have been used to treat everything from depression to muscular degeneration.
Saffron’s vast expense is primarily due to the labour intensive nature of it’s cultivation process. Each individual crocus flower has to be picked by hand and only producers three threads of Saffron. To put this in perspective It takes roughly 150 flowers to produce just one gram of ready to use Saffron! The crops low yield and high labour requirement result in Saffrons’ exorbitant price.
Fortunately a little goes along way and when it comes to saffron you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Overuse wont do any favours for your food and will leave it tasting unpleasantly bitter. So when you’re next cooking with saffron spare a thought for the effort that has gone into each little strand and make sure you don’t go overboard as you’ll end up damaging both the quality of the dish and your bank balance!