Saffron 2012 Food Trend
This year I have been asked “what is saffron?” more than ever, so it must be a food trend for 2012. All of a sudden everyone wants to know how to use it in cooking.
What Is Saffron?
Saffron is a seasoning that is actually the stigmas of a crocus plant.
It is very expensive because each crocus only has 3 of these stigmas and each one must be hand-harvested. You can buy it as a powder or more commonly as threads.
It has a somewhat unique and/or acquired flavor, tasting a bit like an exotic hay. Saffron gives any dish a distinctive yellow color.
Use Saffron Carefully! It Is Expensive!
You use saffron very carefully as it is very expensive!!
This small amount in my hand is sold as a 1 grain envelope and cost $3.79. There are about 480 grains in an ounce!! I have heard that it is the most expensive spice in the world.
Cooking With Saffron
A good rule of thumb when cooking with saffron is that a little goes a long way. Since it is a delicate seasoning, it is often used with rice and fish dishes. Spanish cuisine uses saffron often.
Usually, 1 grain, or a pinch would be enough in a stew or soup that serves 6-8 guests. Saffron does tend to be a bit stronger on the second day.
For best results with saffron, rub the stigmas between your thumb and forefinger to crush them as you put them into your pot. Soups, stew and other moist cooking dishes can have the saffron added straight in but for a dry cooked item it is wise to soak your saffron in a bit of warm water first.
Where To Buy Saffron
You can buy saffron at most US conventional grocery stores. It is sold in little envelopes that usually hang in some obscure location like the produce department or in a corner of the spice section.
When I worked in the restaurant business the saffron was always locked up in the manager’s office!!
We bought it in 1 ounce tins that were very decorative.
The employees always wanted to be the one to finish the tin so that they could take the empty container home.