Where does Saffron come from

01:00 Tue 20th Mar 2001 |

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A.Saffron comes from the crocus flower. Crocus Sativus is grown for this spice used to colour and flavour dishes.

Q. How do we get the spice

A.The long crimson stigmas ( the female part of the flower) are picked and then dried to make the spice.

Q. Is it true it's very expensive

A. It is very expensive because of the work it takes to produce. It can take as many as 4,000 flowers to produce one ounce of saffron. It is, in fact, the world's most expensive spice.

Q. Why is it called saffron

A.The word saffron comes from the Arabic Za'faran.

Q. Where does the plant originate

A. The plant is native to Greece, Asia Minor and adjacent countries. It has been cultivated for its dye since ancient times. There is evidence to show the plant was grown in Palestine at the time of Solomon, purely for saffron.

Q. Where does the best saffron come from these days

A. Experts believe the best saffron hails from La Mancha in Spain. Saffron Waldon, however, in Essex is so named because of its cultivation of the plant for over 400 years.

Q. What dishes would you use saffron in

A. Saffron compliments many dishes. It is used to make paella,a rice and seafood dish from Spain; Italian risotto a la Milanese, which is a creamy dish cooked with Arborio rice, bone marrow and parmesan cheese; and bouillabaisse, a famous French dish served with aioli and hot rouille sauces. Saffron also crops up in Cornish buns, saffron cake and saffron yoghurt.

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By Katharine MacColl

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