Saffron - How to use this delicate and expensive spice

Many years ago a good friend brought me a wonderful gift back from her trip to Istanbul, Turkey. It was saffron. I remember thinking that it was such an elegant spice and almost too pretty to use. I kept it for a long time before finally using it on a special occasion.

Known for its medicinal value and unique flavor for thousands of years, this spice is used around the world. It comes from the stigmas of crocus flowers. Do you know what a "stigma" is? The stigma is the top of the female part of a flower.

The fact that it is hand-picked is the reason it is an expensive spice.

In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra was known to use it in her baths and it was thought to be an aphrodisiac.

A delicate spice that looks like deep red thread, it is shown here:  Picture

Today, it is often used in dishes for celebrations and holidays around the world. Typically, it is used in bouillabaisse, paella and other seafood recipes as well as in breads and cakes.

How to use: It is often infused with warm water and added to recipes late in the cooking process. It can also be ground or crumbled. Only small amounts are needed to add tremendous flavor. Too much of this spice can create a very medicinal flavor. Use sparingly for best results.

Interesting studies about its health benefits suggest it may help with depression.

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