Available in sachets or pistils, saffron is, in the vast panorama of spices, particularly valuable. Proof of this is, moreover, its high cost. Its high value is certainly given by the cultivation of the plant, and in particular by its collection: the very delicate saffron flowers are picked by hand one by one. In addition to the Milanese risotto, saffron finds space in many noteworthy recipes. Here is everything you need to know.
Saffron price: why is it so high?
The high price of saffron – even £27 per gram – is due to its collection: its flowers open for a few days (it is in this short interval that they must be collected) and the stigmas removed with tweezers, one by one, and with extreme delicacy. About 100,000 flowers are needed to produce 1 kg of the spice.
Saffron, properties and benefits
100 grams of saffron bring 310 calories, 11 grams of protein and 6 of fat. It is irrelevant to mention the intake of Omega 3 and 6, vitamins C and B6, folate and manganese as it is practically impossible to consume such a quantity (those present in a gram are really negligible). Saffron would have aphrodisiac, antidepressant and anticancer properties. Despite the cost, excessive consumption is not recommended: doses greater than 10 grams can lead to important contraindications.
Saffron in the kitchen
Where possible, it is always better to prefer the purchase of saffron in pistils than that in sachets, the quality of which is often questionable (some companies mix it with turmeric, which is much less expensive). That said, the uses of saffron in the kitchen are surprising. Before use, it is good to bring the stigmas to light in a little hot water for no more than 40 minutes.
Particularly popular in oriental cuisine, saffron is also used in more or less rich dishes in Europe. If Italy is the home of yellow (Milanese) risotto, in Spain it is the king of paella. In France, however, it is inevitable in bouillabaisse.
Recipes with saffron
In general, however, the best combinations of saffron are with rice, shellfish and various sauces. The recipes with saffron in pistils – more or less gourmet – are preferable for the more intense flavour of the spice. Among the pasta dishes with saffron – besides the risotto – you can opt for the saffron penne and for recipes that are also light but ready to tickle the palate. Do not underestimate also the saffron sweets, including tarts, doughnuts, cheesecake and to give a different boost to the beloved tiramisu.