Saffron: The World's Most Expensive Spice Wednesday, March 19 2014
With its dark orange strands and honey-like, slightly bitter flavor, saffron has made a name for itself as a gorgeous, exotic and expensive spice that rivals the value of gold.
Saffron is the dried stigma of the beautiful blue saffron crocus flower. Laborers must pluck the delicate stigmas of anywhere from 50,000 - 75,000 blossoms in order to produce a single pound of the spice. As you can imagine, harvesting requires an exceptional amount of labor and is the reason saffron is indeed the most expensive spice in the world.
Fortunately, a little bit of saffron goes a long way. In fact, only a pinch is needed in most any recipe. To use, break or grind the threads with a mortar and pestle before adding to warm water or milk for infusion. Once infused, add to your recipe.
Use saffron with couscous, chicken, lamb, polenta, rice, soup or shellfish, and pair with coriander, cumin, almond, mint or nutmeg for a delicious and trusted combination.
Spain’s national dish, paella, gets its vibrant red hue from inclusion of colorful, pungent saffron, and the Spain-Portugal region often incorporates this locally grown ingredient into many of its other dishes.
Saffron’s usage has varied throughout the centuries. Chinese and Indian nobility used to dress in clothing dyed with saffron, Ancient Romans bathed in saffron water and Cleopatra is rumored to have used it as a facial mask.
In Persian traditional medicine, saffron is used to treat depression. Containing two compounds that protect and boost your brain’s serotonin and dopamine levels, it may have similar effects as an antidepressant drug, but without all of the negative side effects.
Experiment with adding saffron to your diet using Spicely's Organic Saffron. To make a simple saffron rice, use 1 thread per 2 cups of dry rice.