It was first popularised in Ancient Egypt for its ability to inspire passion and lust. The Persians used its vivid colour for ink in copies of the Quran and it was seen as a medical marvel in many different ancient civilisations.
In today's culinary world Spanish paella and French bouillabaisse wouldn't be as enticing without this peculiar yet romantic spice and they are just a few examples of why saffron has become one of the most prestigious and highly regarded ingredients demanded.
The cultivation and harvesting of saffron is an art form and a lifestyle. The intricacy of extracting the minute threads contrasts with the sheer volume of crocus flowers that have to be harvested, it takes 150,000 Crocus flowers to produce only 1 kilogram of saffron.
It’s simple, yet astounding, facts like this that help you start to understand and appreciate why saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and why it was once valued, gram for gram, the same as gold.
Almost all saffron produced in the world grows in a belt that stretches from Spain to India. It is able to survive a myriad of climates but, like most living things, it has optimal living conditions. Dry lands with organic soil, it craves bright sunshine and is not overly fond of rain when it’s flowering. It needs just the right amount of each weather. Not dissimilar to us really, we like the sun on our backs as we head straight for an adventure, but we also love the sound of rain on the roof as we curl up with a steamy bowl of GLORIOUS! soup.
This temperamentality reflects in the spice itself and how it should be used. Too much and it will taste like chlorine, too little and you have missed the point. But used properly, saffron can take the flavour and colour of your food to a different level, giving your food a fragrant and regal touch.
From the myth of Crocus’ and Smilax’s ill-fated love affair to the fourteen-week long Saffron War, any spice that can inspire such a passion in people needed to be in our soups. So, when it gets back from a well deserved holiday, try our Persian Hug and you can be swept through time and across distant lands courtesy of the sight, sound and smell of saffron.