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Saffron is a spice extracted from the light purple saffron crocus. Saffron is also called the “red gold” or the “king of all spices”. The spice gives color, aroma and a distinctive flavor to a dish. Its origins lies in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Iran is the largest producer of saffron with more than 94% of the total world production. The other 6% comes mainly from Turkey, Greece, Morocco and Spain. In Iran, saffron is produced in Ghayen, also known as the capital of saffron. Here is a supplier who has been there for 150 years. In order to guarantee traceability and quality, the saffron of Verstegen also comes from this supplier.
The red stamps from the saffron crocus form the spice saffron. The saffron crocus grows best in a climate where it is hot during the day and at night the temperature drops to around freezing point. The climate in Iran is the perfect example of this, which is why Iranian saffron is seen as the best quality and also the best available. Each crocus produces only 3 stamps, which makes cultivation and harvesting very labor-intensive. About 150,000 crocuses are needed for 1 kg of saffron! That is why saffron is also more expensive than other herbs and spices.
Saffron gives a beautiful color, as well as a specific taste and a pleasant aroma to several dishes. The scent is reminiscent to honey. Saffron is used in sauces, rice and fish dishes, bread dough and desserts. In Europe, saffron is widely used in Spain, where it is an indispensable ingredient in the traditional dish of paella. Saffron is used in Italy in the preparation of risotto and in Belgium in the preparation of rice pudding.