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Foodstuffs of the Week – Saffron


Pop quiz: what’s more expensive, gold or saffron? The answer: saffron. Yep that’s right; the reddy-yellow tinged spice is worth more than one of the world’s most coveted metals. So, all those cash for gold companies are clearly getting it wrong. Saffron’s price tag comes from its laborious cultivation which requires a speedy harvesting period. The mind blowing fact that it takes 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron proves just how strenuous saffron can be.

History: We have quite the history with Saffron. The spice featured in Greek legend, Cleopatra used to use it in her baths, Romans praised it as a perfume, court ladies of Henry VIII’s reign tinted their hair with saffron, it was coveted by plague victims during the Black Death and pigments of the spice were even found in prehistoric cave paintings dating well over fifty thousand years ago. You just can’t get away from it!

Properties: Saffron is derived from the dried stigma of the saffron crocus and boasts a beautiful reddy-yellow colour. One reason the spice is so expensive is due to its fragility, it has to be picked by hand and is difficult to store to its sensitivity to light and moisture. But it is coveted for its buttery, floral aroma and sweet pepper-like flavour. The spice also offers up a range of medicinal properties which can be used to fight asthma, whooping cough, as well as sleep problems and heartburn.

Cooking with Saffron: The rule with saffron is “a little goes a long way” so you don’t want to go over the top. The spice is commonly used when making seafood dishes such as paella and bouillabaisse but don’t just limit yourself to crustaceans. For a taste of this sunny little delicacy why not give our Honey Saffron Chicken a go, it’s a aglow with saffron splendour.