If velvety olive oil is Spain’s liquid gold, then definitely saffron – with its 150 fantastic, aroma-yielding components – have to be the united states’s solid gold?
Not most effective does this treasured spice bestow the stunning sunny yellow coloration to such famend Spanish dishes as paella, it additionally imparts fantastic fitness advantages on folks who devour it, being a effective antioxidant, as well as useful on your ldl cholesterol, heart, and eye-sight. Some even say it beats Prozac for alleviating depression!
But, where does it come from?… How is it grown and harvested?… And, what are its culinary makes use of?…
Where Does Saffron Come From?
Saffron is, in reality, the hand-picked and hand-roasted deep, orangey-red stamen of a selected species of the little crimson crocus flower – the crocus sativas.
Although its origins lie in Asia Minor, it become the Moors who introduced this valuable condiment into Spain, when they conquered the land. The Moors referred to as it “az-zafaran”, that’s much like the Spanish phrase for saffron to-day – “azafrán”.
Nowadays, round 70% of the World’s saffron comes from the magical Spanish place of Castilla-La Mancha – a excessive undeniable in significant Spain, famed no longer only for its extensive saffron fields, but additionally for its fairy-tale castles, romantic windmills… And, of path, Don Quijote.
Not handiest is Spain answerable for developing the lion’s proportion of the World’s saffron, it also surely produces the great, with the conventional, artisan-type harvesting being a true Saffron labor of affection…
Growing and Harvesting Saffron
The scorching summers and harsh winters of La Mancha are ideal for growing and producing great saffron. Towards the give up of October, mile upon mile of saffron fields will all at once burst into flower, ensuing in a seemingly endless landscape of pink… Fast observed by bustling pastime.
All the locals without delay rush to the fields. This is the instant they’ve been looking ahead to all 12 months, and that they realize they should paintings fast, otherwise the tremendous taste can be lost. The complete harvesting duration only lasts round 10 days, and so, the strenuous hard work of love starts offevolved.
The men spend the day doubled-over, hand-picking every individual flower. These are then taken to the ready girls-folks who, with their extra sensitive fingers, pluck out the 3 stigmas which each little flower carries. The next step is a gentle roasting manner and, for this, the stigmas are positioned in a sort of sieve over a low fire. Finally, the containers are proudly stamped “DO La Mancha”, meaning “Denomination of Origin La Mancha”, in order that destiny customers can rest confident they’re buying the exceptional artisan saffron the World has to offer.
Once all the work is finished, they’ll be much celebrating and rejoicing and, inside the La Mancha villages, you may find many nearby fiestas at this time of yr.
Saffron in Cooking
When selecting saffron for adding color, aroma, and flavor in your dishes, plump for saffron threads in place of powder, for powdered saffron can without problems be adulterated with less expensive Iranian saffrons, or with paprika.
Artisan-kind saffron is certainly king and, the deeper the shade, the higher. Just crumble more than one strands into your dishes at some point of cooking, at the side of inventory or liquid, and the end result could be now not just a lovely coloration, but also a incredible perfume and taste. And, don’t forget to store your saffron strands in an air-tight box, properly away from the mild.
Saffron is the World’s maximum pricey spice, for you want 2 hundred flowers simply to make one gram. But, a little is going an extended way and, when you’re subsequent playing a sunny-colored paella in Spain, spare a idea for all of the difficult work and loving care that went on in those massive, red fields high up in La Mancha.