Saffron is known as “red gold” as, beside the ability to provide aroma and flavor, it also adds a strong red color.  

Saffron is the perfect seasoning for most rice dishes: it gives color, flavor, and a particular aroma, aside from the fact that its flavor combines perfectly with garlic, lemon, tomato, thyme, etc. It also can be used in many other dishes, such as stews, fish, meat, desserts, pasta, etc.

Saffron is the Most Expensive Spice in the World.

paella with saffronThe spice of saffron is treated as a “luxury” item due to its delicacy and refinement, as well as its price, which is quite high because of its production costs. Its cultivation requires extreme high and dry temperatures in summer and very cold temperatures in winter.   

The planting of bulbs and the gathering of the saffron flower is a difficult task that is traditionally done by hand. The saffron flower is gathered at dawn to subsequently carefully divide the flower strands or stigmas. Each flower has three stigmas in the shape of a long trumpet and in a strong red color, being said strand the part of the flower that is turned into a spice, leaving the rest of the flower useless. 

To obtain a kilo of saffron, more than 150,000 flowers must be collected and unbladed. For this reason, we must learn how to use it appropriately without wasting any part of it. Here is how.

You can purchase different types of saffron. Should you buy ground saffron, it is ready for application, where it only needs to be dissolved in the stew you are cooking. It can also be dissolved in warm water. 

When purchasing strands of saffron, it is advisable for it to be slightly roasted before its application. It can also be used without it being roasted by slightly crushing it in a mortar, but its full potential will not be obtained.  

Due to its intense flavor, it must be applied in small amount. It is recommended to use 5 strands or 30mg of ground saffron per person.

How to Roast Saffron

When lightly roasting the strands of saffron, its flavor and aroma is highlighted, besides the intense color it will give to the dishes. 

An easy way of roasting saffron is by using aluminum foil. Wrap the strands in a small piece of aluminum foil and hold it over the fire for 8 or 10 minutes without holding it still, to prevent it from being burnt or over-roasted. In the case of lacking a gas cooker, you may use a lighter.

Another way of roasting saffron is with the microwave, by inserting the saffron in a microwavable container for 15 seconds.

It is known that some people roast saffron directly in a pan, but it is harder to avoid it from being burnt. It is important to closely monitor the heat and to have it cooking for a very short period of time.

Strands of Saffron are very delicate. Be careful and avoid them from being burnt.

After the roasting process, saffron strands are brittle and subsequently are grinded in a mortar. After it has been grounded, depending on the recipe being elaborated, they must be dissolved in warm water or in a spoon-full of the stew it is to be added to. As the final step, you may add the dissolved saffron to your dish.

By roasting and grounding the strands of saffron, it properties are highlighted.

Tip: If you use saffron on a regular basis in your cooking, keep in mind to use wooden spoons or other tools, as it will acquire an orange color. 

La Gourmeta recommends trying this gourmet Saffron, which is handmade and has an exquisite aroma and flavor.