What is Saffron, anyway?
Q :So what is Saffron anyway?
A :Saffron threads are the stigma of a special type of flower - Crocus sativus ( saffron flower). The saffron plant typically flowers in the fall and has tall straight leaves. The flowers are pale purple in color with bright yellowish-red stigmas.
DID YOU KNOW : It takes approximately 150 flowers to produce a single gram of dried saffron threads? This makes it the most expensive spice on earth.
Q : I've never used saffron before.. what do I do with it?
A : Saffron has been in use as a spice ( flavoring and coloring agent) for centuries.It has other medicinal and healing properties too. Saffron can be used in many recipes and know that a few strands of quality saffron used properly will flavor and color an entire dish! Simply soak a few stands in warm water or milk. The heat helps extract the natural flavor and color. After a couple minutes of soaking, add it to the recipe of your choice. How easy was that?
BEWARE : There are a lot of "fake" saffron brands in the market that claim to be the best. As a standard, longer and darker stigmas ( threads) are considerably better in quality than the shorter, coarser, lighter broken strands.
Q : How do I know if I am getting the best quality and does it make a difference?
A : Due to the variety of climates where saffron crocus plants grow, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) samples and grades the stigmas for color, taste, and fragrance. The color intensity is graded and ISO provides the grower with a grade based on the sample batch.
There are four levels of grading and the pricing for saffron is dependent on the grade achieved. This process helps keep pricing transparent and allows buyers to know what quality they are getting. The Gathering of Saffron Brand ( Selected Saffron) is certified by ISO as Category 1, Select Grade making it the best quality saffron produced in the world.
Yes, quality does make a difference. When you use premium quality saffron like ours, a few stands are enough to color and flavor an entire dish. When using inferior quality ( usually less expensive), you end up using 10-12 servings or even the entire box and still not get the rich aroma and flavor that you were promised.