From the producer:
Saffron is a key element in cuisines from the Mediterranean to South Asia and is used in both sweet and savory preparations. It adds a distinctive floral flavor and golden color to fragrant rice dishes like paella, risotto and biryani, to frozen desserts like ice cream and kulfi as well as traditional teas. It is often paired with cardamom, pistachio and rosewater.
Our saffron threads are pulled carefully from the flower, which leaves a characteristic flame-colored tail on each thread. That slight gradation in color is your assurance that our saffron is 100% pure and never dyed or otherwise adulterated. Our saffron threads are also uncommonly delicate, with a warm, honeyed fragrance reminiscent of dried roses and fresh hay.
Saffron is also said to have beneficial health properties, including increasing serotonin levels, reducing stress and anxiety and reducing hunger pangs.
Origin: Herat, Afghanistan
Ingredients: 100% whole saffron threads (Crocus sativa)
Tasting notes: Honey • Dried Roses • Fresh Hay
Our saffron is cultivated in the deserts of the Herat province in western Afghanistan, on the border with Iran, where saffron has grown for thousands of years. During the annual harvest in November and December, farmers begin work at dawn, plucking the beautiful white and purple crocus flowers before the desert sun can wilt them and ruin the invaluable stamens. Each flower produces only three stamens, which are painstakingly extracted by hand and dried.
Saffron is immensely valuable, and like any valuable product, dishonest traders may attempt to deceive consumers about the quality of their product. Safflower, a different flower entirely, is sometimes sold as saffron; safflower petals have straight, orange threads, while true saffron threads are deep red and curled and tangled. Lower grade saffron threads may also be cut and colored be with red dye to make them appear higher quality.
Ottolenghi utilizes sumac to bring citrusy and astringent flavor to savory and sweet dishes alike. Try it in the Sumac-Roasted Strawberries with Yogurt Cream (p. 272) and the Shallow-Fried Potatoes with Rosemary and Sumac (p. 139)