No spice is more special than Saffron, the dried yellow stigmas from a small purple crocus. Each flower provides only three stigmas, which must be carefully hand-picked and then dried. It takes 225,000 stigmas to make one pound of saffron. This extremely labor-intensive process makes saffron the most expensive spice in the world.
Most saffron comes from Iran, Turkey, India, Morocco, Spain, and Greece. It has long been used in traditional medicine around the world, as a fabric dye and in perfumery.
Several modern research studies show that the carotenoid compounds responsible for saffron's striking colour (safranal, crocetin, crocin) could play a part in inhibiting the growth of tumours. The active constituents in saffron could help alleviate gastric problems, heart disease, insulin resistance, depression, and premenstrual syndrome.
The aroma is often described as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has been noted as hay-like and sweet. It gives every dish a luminous yellow-orange colouring.
When choosing your saffron check the threads. They will appear dark red - the redder, the better quality you will get. There should be no colour variation. Sometimes the yellow style hasn't been removed. It has no culinary benefiit it only adds to the weight!
Watch the Video, Saffron - How Do They Do It? made by Discovery TV. They go to Morocco to see how saffron is made!