Saffron is a plant. The dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. It is usually cultivated and harvested by hand. Due to the amount of labor involved in harvesting, saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. The tiny stigmas and styles at the centre of the beautful saffron flowers, also known as ‘threads’ in the culinary world are what we use in cooking. The stigmas, and sometimes the petals, are also used to make medicines, dyes and exotic flavourings. Saffron has a strong and distinct aroma and a mildly bitter taste. The strands release a deep toned yellow hue to brighten and flavour many Mediterranean and Asian dishes. Look at those bright red strands in the image below. That’s what we’re interested in.
Just one gram of saffron costs approximately ₹200 which is almost $3. Here in India, saffron grows aplenty in the cold northern areas of Jammu and Kashmir. If you really want to try saffron, invest in a reputed brand because there is a lot of adulterated saffron available in the market that lacks the fragrance and aroma of real saffron.
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