The most expensive spice in the world. £10 per gram. Are they mad?
Saffron comes from a crocus flower. Each flower only blooms for one week a year, has only three stigmas and thousands of stigmas make only a gram of spice. These stigmas have to be harvested by hand and then dried. Expensive labour intensive stuff! The good news with saffron is ‘less is more'. Use too much and you get a bitter taste, not it's beautiful smell of sweet hay
For the best quality choose deep red threads. If the tips aren’t orange the saffron might have been died to hide its poorer quality. Beware of fakes, mad!
To draw out the colour and to get it evenly in your cooking put your saffron threads into a little warm water, milk, stock or white wine for about 30 minutes and then add towards the end of your cooking. Do not worry about keeping your threads in the freezer for a year, they will keep their quality
A surprise is Essex’s Saffron Walden is named the spice having once been the centre of cultivating crocuses in medieval times