Saffron and Paella: know all about these two inseparable
Saffron, which is called “Red Gold” and whose little scholarly name is “Crocus Sativus”, is the spice responsible for the color that characterizes both Paella. And if the color of the filaments is red, it gives the rice a pretty yellow-orange color. It is from this hue that comes its name “zarparan” which means yellow in Persia, which gave “azafran” in Spanish and “saffron” in French. Its history dates back more than 3,000 years and its origin no one knows: Asia Minor, Crete, Nepal? But from ancient times to today, the main producers of spices have been and still are: Iran, Spain, India and Greece. And Valencia has a great tradition of saffron rice, which gave us: Paella …
Saffron in Paella …
With sweet pepper, it is one of only two spices of Paella. All others are useless & unwelcome … Its 3 main properties:
- color with its beautiful yellow hue. (and not red or orange like some dyes)
- perfume your paella together, with its unique flavor of honey & mineral.
- enhance the taste of food
Its 2 main defects are:
- its high cost, VERY high … Because it takes approximately 60 000 flowers for 1 kilo of saffron at 30 000 €.
- ts coloring power is less powerful than artificial dyes, which we are used to today.Saffron is therefore unfortunately replaced by 99% of Sunday’s cooks by a dye, Tartrazine E102, which is increasingly recognized as dangerous for health around the world, but so cheaper and so much more colorful …
How to use saffron in Paella?
There are 3 ways to take advantage of the properties of saffron:
- Let the pistils macerate for a few minutes in a little of your hot broth and introduce at the same time as your rice.
- Very close to the first method you infuse it for a few hours in a small amount of water before adding it to Paella. And why not a whole night: the more you give him time to open and the more he expresses himself in color and flavor.
- Another method is to slip the crocuses into a small sheet of aluminum well closed like a foil. Place it near the fire for a few minutes to lightly toast. You just have to break them with your fingers
- A quality saffron is used sparingly either 1 pistil or 3 stigmas (3 stigmas = 1 pistil) per person.
- You can go up to triple that dose if you are unsure about the value of your product.
Whatever your choice, follow these tips:
- Never have it in your dish as it is.
- Do not fry or boil prolonged because it does not support it.
- Do not over cook it, let alone burn it.
- Saffron cooks little: 20 minutes maximum, so the ideal is to add just after adding your rice.
This prevents the sugar it contains caramelizes, it would leave a very unpleasant taste in your Paella.
How to choose & buy saffron for paella?
Several precautions are therefore necessary when you buy saffron:
- Prefer the saffron pistils and check that the stigmas have a trumpet shape, that their color is dark red and that they measure 2 to 4 cm.Avoid powdered saffron. It can be mixed with substitute products like turmeric, paprika …
- Check the harvest year: saffron keeps all its qualities for 3 years.
Beware of saffron at low prices, and if possible, buy it directly from a producer and do not hesitate to ask him about his favorite method for cooking with a paella.
How to store Saffron?
Saffron will offer all its aroma for 3 years. But it is imperative to keep it dry. Like many spices, saffron must be kept away from light and moisture to preserve all its qualities and flavors.
What are the differences between Turmeric & Saffron?
Attention scam !!! Very expensive, saffron is often replaced or mixed with turmeric also called “saffron of India” or safflower safflower also called “faux-saffron”. Both mimic perfectly the color of saffron but have very different flavors … To avoid!
For more information:
History & legends of saffron? A very well informed blog: History and legend of saffron Passionate & shopping saffron? The biggest saffron of France: Safran de France, the reference The also a beautiful online sales site: Saffron classification: the ISO’s norm