|Saffron comes from the La Mancha region in southern Spain. It is the orange-red stigma of the purple-blue autumn crocus that provides this powerful cooking ingredient. The crocus filaments are plucked by hand and dried very carefully over wood fires. Saffron was once grown extensively in Cambridgeshire and Essex (e.g. Saffron Walden) and was particularly popular during the reign of Henry VIII. |
Other countries still grow Saffron such as Iran (see below) and the Kashmir region of India.
Saffron has the ability to infuse both colour and flavour into dishes such as Paella and Bouillabaisse. It blends well with other spices to lend depth and richness to cooking. Saffron can also be used to make saffron buns or cakes, as is traditional in Cornwall. It is common in India for this spice to be added to lamb dishes. Saffron can also add flavour and colour to drinks.
Saffron strands can either be added directly to the cooking pot or can be ground down. Some people like to pre-soak their saffron in either water overnight or warm milk for 10-15 minutes prior to use to help fully release the colour and flavours.
Excellent accompaniment to fish dishes.
Livens up the colour of rice, noodles and sauces.
Helps to meld and mellow the flavours of other ingredients whilst cooking.
Highly concentrated, so only a pinch or two is necessary.