Saffron (Crocus Sativus) is the most expensive spice in the world, mainly due to its harvesting process. Saffron comes from a crocus flower. The female pistil has 3 components, the stigma, style and ovary. The pistil has one style that branches into three distinct stigmas. These three stigmas are the Saffron threads. Each crocus flower produces only 3 threads, and it takes over 200,000 stigmas to make 1 lb. of threads The crocus flowers stand about 1 ft. high and must be harvested by hand. The threads of a crocus are deep red and bright orange in color and are about 1" long. The threads have a taste of bitter almonds. Saffron is used to flavor dishes and as a yellow dye. Most of the Saffron sold in the U.S. comes from Spain. Other areas that produce Saffron include Portugal, Italy, France, Turkey and India.
Suggested Use: Saffron's delicate flavor compliments light meats, fish and poultry. Frequently used to season Pilaf, Italian Risotto and Mexican rice. It's often added to breads like Saffron buns, a traditional part of Swedish Christmas meals. Saffron is directly added to the dish at the beginning of the cooking process.
Basic Preparations: Saffron has a distinctive aroma and a penetrating, bitter, but highly aromatic taste. The threads need no preparation. For best results with flavor and color, grind the threads prior to use. When adding threads to dishes with very little liquid, soak saffron first in luke warm water and add to the end of cooking.
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