Saffron is known as the most expensive spice on the market and for good reason: each small thread comes from a flower that only produces three small stigmas that must be picked by hand. That means one ounce of saffron came from 14,000 threads!
Saffron has made its name in history as well. The ladies of Henry VIII’s court used to tint their hair with it because of its bright, red hue. Quick tip: the brighter the red, the better quality the saffron is. When purchasing saffron, make sure the tips of the the threads are lighter in color to assure you’re not buying dyed, lower quality saffron.
So, if you want to cook with saffron, be sure to steep it before you add it to any of your dishes. If you are in a hurry, keep the ratio of water (or broth) to saffron at five teaspoons to one teaspoon. Soak it for twenty minutes and mash into a paste. If you have more time, steep for 2-12 hours at a three to one ratio and do not crush the saffron. Be sure not to use wooden utensils when handling saffron, as it can absorb the color and flavor of the spice.
Saffron is great with seafood: like fish, mussels, and C=clams. It’s also lovely with rice or risotto, soups, stews, and even bread. But remember: a little goes a long way! Usually just a pinch is enough for a serving of about four people.
What other ways do you like to use saffron?