Saffron is no glorified food colouring. Whilst it does provide fabulous colour to food, it has a uniquely delightful flavour, often likened to honey or even tobacco amongst other things. The truth is, it has a flavour all of its own and can add something very special to sweet and savoury foods. Produced using the stigmas from the Saffron Crocus, it takes 150-200 flowers and a lot of hard labour to produce just one gram of dried saffron threads. Yes, it is expensive – a 0.3g jar is £8.60 but that’s a lot of threads and you can make a lot of paella with that. As with most spices, it’s important not to overdo it, so you will find you need very little for each recipe. The threads keep well, in a sealed jar, for up to 2 years from the time of production. But you need to buy this valuable commodity from a trusted supplier such as Norfolk Saffron since it can easily be adulterated by unscrupulous sellers.
In 1997 Sally Francis was given 20 saffron corms, a birthday gift from her mother. They flourished in the family garden and in 2009 Sally began selling saffron commercially and set up Norfolk Saffron. Now Dr Sally Francis, an agricultural botanist and consultant on “alternative crops”, consistently produces saffron threads of the highest quality which are available from www.norfolksaffron.co.uk
Saffron has an interesting history too both in respect of its ancient origins and uses, and it’s more recent history of production in England.
“Saffron is a spice shrouded in mystery and confusion” says Sally in her book, also available from the Norfolk Saffron website.
See also Saffron Prawn Risotto