Chef's Tip: Saffron

January 15, 2014

Chef's Tip: Saffron

Cooking with Saffron

Saffron, the yellow-orange stigmas from a small purple saffron crocus, is the world's most expensive spice. That's because each flower provides only 3 red stigmas. One ounce of saffron = approximately 14,000 of these tiny saffron threads. The tiny red threads of saffron must be handpicked from the centre of the crocus flower. Fortunately, a little bit of saffron goes a long way. In fact, too much saffron can ruin a dish with an overpowering, medicinal taste. Saffron needs moisture to release its flavor. The best way to extract flavor from saffron is to soak the threads in hot (not boiling) liquid for 5 to 20 minutes.

As the saffron soaks, you'll notice the distinctive aroma indicating that your saffron "tea" is ready.

* Turmeric may be substituted for the colour properties, not the flavour. * Don't use wooden utensils when mixing saffron. Wood utensils tend to absorb saffron easily. Since saffron is so expensive, you won't want to waste any of it.

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