If velvety olive oil is Spain’s liquid gold, then truely saffron – with its one hundred fifty first-rate, aroma-yielding additives – have to be the usa’s strong gold?
Not simplest does this precious spice bestow the beautiful sunny yellow shade to such famend Spanish dishes as paella, it also imparts positive health blessings on people who eat it, being a effective antioxidant, in addition to useful in your ldl cholesterol, coronary heart, and eye-sight. Some even say it beats Prozac for assuaging melancholy!
But, where does it come from?… How is it grown and harvested?… And, what are its culinary uses?…
Where Does Saffron Come From?
Saffron is, in reality, the hand-picked and hand-roasted deep, orangey-pink stamen of a specific species of the little crimson crocus flower – the crocus sativas.
Although its origins lie in Asia Minor, it became the Moors who brought this precious condiment into Spain, after they conquered the land. The Moors referred to as it “az-zafaran”, that is just like the Spanish word for saffron to-day – “azafrán”.
Nowadays, round 70% of the World’s saffron comes from the mystical Spanish area of Castilla-La Mancha – a high plain in imperative Spain, famed no longer handiest for its Saffron widespread saffron fields, but additionally for its fairy-tale castles, romantic windmills… And, of path, Don Quijote.
Not most effective is Spain answerable for growing the lion’s proportion of the World’s saffron, it also absolutely produces the first-class, with the conventional, artisan-kind harvesting being a real labor of love…
Growing and Harvesting Saffron
The sizzling summers and harsh winters of La Mancha are perfect for growing and producing wonderful saffron. Towards the give up of October, mile upon mile of saffron fields will abruptly burst into flower, resulting in a reputedly infinite landscape of purple… Fast followed with the aid of bustling hobby.
All the locals immediately rush to the fields. This is the moment they’ve been looking forward to all yr, and that they recognise they ought to paintings quick, in any other case the outstanding flavor could be lost. The complete harvesting length only lasts round 10 days, and so, the strenuous exertions of affection starts.
The men spend the day doubled-over, hand-selecting every character flower. These are then taken to the ready women-people who, with their extra delicate arms, pluck out the 3 stigmas which every little flower incorporates. The subsequent step is a gentle roasting technique and, for this, the stigmas are placed in a type of sieve over a low fire. Finally, the packing containers are proudly stamped “DO La Mancha”, which means “Denomination of Origin La Mancha”, so that destiny clients can relaxation assured they’re shopping for the fine artisan saffron the World has to provide.
Once all the paintings is finished, they may be lots celebrating and rejoicing and, inside the La Mancha villages, you’ll discover many neighborhood fiestas at this time of yr.
Saffron in Cooking
When deciding on saffron for including color, aroma, and flavor in your dishes, plump for saffron threads as opposed to powder, for powdered saffron can effortlessly be adulterated with less expensive Iranian saffrons, or with paprika.
Artisan-type saffron is absolutely king and, the deeper the coloration, the higher. Just collapse more than one strands into your dishes in the course of cooking, at the side of inventory or liquid, and the end result could be no longer just a stunning coloration, however also a superb fragrance and flavor. And, take into account to shop your saffron strands in an air-tight box, properly far from the light.