Saffron is one of the most expensive spices, which is collected from the dried stigma of full bloom saffron flowers. Quality spice threads of saffron are dark red in color and they smell lovely. It is always wise to purchase best quality saffron for culinary and medicinal use.
Saffron Spice – Precious and Exclusive
Saffron is one of the most exclusive spices across the globe not only for its high price but also for its extremely delicate collection method and rare presence. The spice is derived from the dry stigmas of saffron crocus flowers; the flowers must be handpicked during autumn only and it is estimated that nearly 50,000-75,000 flowers are required for making around one pound of saffron spice. Use of this spice adds special aroma and taste in food; however, overuse of saffron may induce bitterness and toxic effect. The spice is used in Persian, Arabian, European, Indian, Pakistani, Central Asian, and Turkish cuisines specifically for seasoning and coloring. Best quality and major quantity of saffron spice is procured from Khorason of Iran [93.7% of total global production], although it is also found in Spain, Egypt, Turkey, Kashmir, and Morocco.
Saffron Threads – Identify the Best
It is essential to verify the quality of saffron threads at the time of purchase because the threads represent the spice quality. Four essential qualities of best saffron spice threads areThe pure red color [no other color at all].Optimum dryness and brittleness of the threads.The threads must offer fresh and strong aroma, it should never be mushy.The threads must remain separated from each other. If threads are adjoined, it is due to the presence of moisture and moisture reduces the shelf life of the spice.Saffron threads are comprised of multiple chemical compounds. Crocin is responsible for its color, safranal produces aroma, and picrocorocin stands responsible for its flavor. Red threads are the mark of the purest quality of this special spice.
Saffron Substitute – Healthy Alternative
Due to high price and rare availability of quality saffron in market, often homemakers look for saffron substitute. However, it is difficult to get the quality substitute for its special aroma although the yellow color can be managed by adding tiny amount of turmeric in food. Culinary experts often claim that Mexican saffron can somehow substitute saffron but this variety of spice is not available worldwide and nothing particular is yet known about the side effect of Mexican saffron in food. Other than turmeric, safflower, marigold blossom, or annatto seeds can also be used as saffron substitute for adding yellow tinge in food but none of these ingredients can add the saffron special flavor; hence, cannot replace the spice as a whole.