Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Spanish and Iranian Style Saffron is A Favorite of Chefs!

Since it is illegal to import saffron from Iran to America we have worked hard to source some of the finest Iranian style saffron from the nutrient dense lands of New Zealand, France & Greece. These fertile soils produce the best saffron around! Get about 250 of our finest Iranian saffron threads! We are known throughout Florida and the USA to have some of the finest quality Iranian saffron around! Saffron is an expensive spice that has a very distinct flavor and aroma. It is prized throughout the world, but often only used for special-occasion dishes because it is so expensive. Saffron comes from the three stigmas of an autumn blooming crocus plant, the Crocus Sativus. The Crocus Sativus is hardy from zones six through nine in the United States, and it can be grown in colder climates if removed to the indoors in winter. Our saffron is in stock and ships same day! Don't wait weeks for your saffron to arrive, get it fast and now! Due to saffron's expensive price many online companies use saffron dropship companies for their saffron orders. This makes shipping and delivery a long process. Buy from Florida Herb House and get your saffron shipped same day right from our store in Daytona Beach, Florida!

We guarantee the best quality Saffron in the world imported exclusively from (Macedonia)Greece, New Zealand & France! Enjoy our freshly stocked organic certified Saffron in our handy 1/16, 1/8, 1/4 ounce and 1/2 ounce packets. These are the highly sought after Saffron threads also WITHOUT the "anthers" which add invaluable weight to ones order! The Saffron "anther" is the pollen producing organ at the top of the thread. These can weigh as much as or more than the individual thread! Get the best bang for your buck with our truly magnificent Saffron threads!

Where to Buy Saffron

Our Saffron is always packed fresh to order and it does sell out rather fast so get yours today! If premium picked Saffron threads cost over $1000 per pound, it had better be good, right? Saffron lays claim to the most expensive spice in the world but it is mighty tasty. Find out why it costs so much then try cooking with the culinary gold yourself by preparing a pot of Sausage and Potato Stew with Saffron.

The different suggested amounts of saffron threads for some popular recipes are as follows:
Paella (6-8 Servings) - 1/2 tsp threads
Bouillabaisse (6-8 Servings) - 1/4 tsp threads
Risotto Milanese - (4-6 Servings) - 1/4 tsp threads
Saffron Cakes (18 muffin sized cakes) - 1/4 tsp thread

The professionals who define Category I saffron as needing a minimum of 190, are called the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). They have set minimum, not maximum standards for saffron. Florida Herb House sells the best quality saffron available anywhere in the world, backed by scientific evidence. When you buy our saffron, we can show you a photospectromety report (as seen below) which verifies its high coloring strength. This is the only method used internationally to measure saffron's worth. The higher its coloring strength, the higher its value. Saffron's coloring strength determines its flavor and aroma. You will read and hear all kinds of other things about measuring saffron like you should look for a particular color and size in saffron threads and that you should probably avoid saffron powder altogether. This is misinformation. If saffron has the right coloring strength, it will have the right color and general appearance, whether it is in thread or powder form.

So what coloring strength numbers should you be looking for? The international standard minimum for Category I saffron is 190. Our Brand saffron has a coloring strength of between 238 and 256. The worst laboratory report we have seen to date on saffron sold in the U.S. is 110. Can you imagine the difference in the aroma, color and taste of your dish if you use a saffron with a coloring strength of 240 compared with one which only measures 110, 140 or even the minimum standard, 190? It is the equivalent of comparing a cheap, sparkling wine with a fine champagne.

As you can see from these charts, it is important to understand how coloring strength applies to commercial saffron. Buying inferior saffron means you are actually doubling your per serving cost. The head chef of a major culinary academy was complaining one day about how wasteful his students were with saffron. He explained that he bought cheap saffron because of this. I told him his students were probably not being wasteful but instead kept adding more saffron to their recipes because it was the only way they could get the color they were looking for. Really there is no such thing as "cheap" saffron. There is only quality saffron and inferior saffron. If you use quality saffron, it is easy to be consistent about the amount to use in every recipe.

So why the hefty price tag, you may be wondering? Every step in the cultivation of the world's most expensive spice is done by hand. Saffron is the dried stigma of the purple saffron crocus. Crocus sativus is a member of the iris family. It blooms for only two or three weeks in autumn.

The flowers are picked by hand and then the reddish-orange stigmas, only three per flower, are plucked from each bloom. The "threads" are spread onto a sieve and cured over heat for half an hour to dry and deepen the flavor.

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Native to southern Europe and Asia Minor, Spain is the world's largest grower and exporter of saffron. It takes 210,000 stigmas from 70,000 flowers to make up one pound. A one-acre plot will yield 8 to 12 pounds of the spice.

Saffron is said to symbolize the necessity of guarding against excess. If you go overboard with it in a recipe, you will wind up with a medicinal taste. Use just the right amount and saffron will impart a pleasant, somewhat spicy yet bitter flavor to a dish.

Most recipes will call for a "good pinch" of the threads. Just a quarter teaspoon will season rice for four or six people. Cookbook authors often recommend soaking the threads in water or milk before adding to a recipe. This also encourages that gorgeous yellow color to shine through.

This pretty spice is common to fish and rice dishes in several cuisines. It is essential to a French bouillabaisse, the shellfish and fish stew. Spanish cooks consider it a must for paella, an exquisite dish of rice and seafood, as well as for arroz con pollo, chicken with rice. Risotto Milanese is the Italian offering for saffron rice. You might also try it as a seasoning for soups, potatoes or tomato dishes.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Finding The Best Saffron For Your Next Recipe

Foods Bitz: Where does Saffron come from?
Stephen Sharp: Saffron comes from the crocus sativus plant. We purchase all our Saffron for sale at Florida Herb House direct from 3 different countries, Iran, Spain, and Greece. We choose our location depending on who is yielding the highest quality Saffron threads. Iran and Spain produce about 80% of the world's Saffron supply.

Food Bitz: Why is Saffron so expensive?
Stephen Sharp: That is a great question! Saffron requires huge amounts of work to produce. The best Saffron you can buy is the Saffron Threads. Each Saffron flower only has 3 threads or "Stigmas". On the top of each thread or stigma is an anther. The anther is the head of the thread and can weigh more than the thread itself. Often lesser quality Saffron has the anthers mixed in with the threads as they add weight. It takes over 13,000 individual threads to make just an ounce of Saffron so you can see why it is so expensive. Anywhere from 400,000 stigmas or upwards of 85,000 flowers are required to yield a pound of saffron! Also the intense labor involved in the picking and processing plays a large part in the high costs. We pride ourselves at Florida Herb House by offering the finest Saffron threads without the "Anthers".

Food Bitz: What are the Saffron stamens?
Stephen Sharp: Another great question! The male part of the flower is the stamen. Stamens are half the size of the stigmas. When dried the stamens are yellowish in color. Their appearance in the spice is a giveaway that the saffron being purchased is not top grade and has added dead weight. The lighter the color, the more stamens there are. True saffron powder has a rich vermilion color. The highest quality Saffron should not have any stamens mixed in with the threads as the yellow stamens offer little if any culinary value.

 Saffron Flower Parts

Foods Bitz: What are the Saffron stigmas?
Stephen Sharp: In a good crop, each plant typically produces several flowers. The stigma or female part of the flower is the actual source of saffron. The stigmas are painstakingly picked by hand. Then they are dried or cured and transformed into pure saffron.

Foods Bitz: What about fake and imitation Saffron?
Stephen Sharp: Yes some companies sell another flower called Safflower or "American Saffron". They advertise this as "Saffron" to unsuspecting customers. The color of your Saffron is the first clue to its quality. The general rule of thumb is high quality Saffron should be a uniform red color and the threads should be brittle. It should have a distinct aroma also not a musty smell. Florida Herb House sells both Safflower and Saffron and advertise our Safflower as "Safflower" so not to confuse any novice spice buyers. We also sell both the mixed Saffron (Saffron Threads Mixed With The Stamens) and also the pure Saffron threads (Saffron Threads With No Stamens Or Anthers) for a great variety of choices for all types of chefs and cuisines. Every ounce of our Saffron ranks highest on the color and aroma scale!

Foods Bitz: What does Saffron taste like?
Stephen Sharp: Saffron has a very light natural favor. Its earthy aroma when used properly helps many chefs look good or even great. In many cases. It does take some practice to learn how much Saffron to use in a particular recipe. The flavor from Saffron can not be boiled away which makes it an easy addition to any recipe calling for it.

Foods Bitz: How do you cook with Saffron?
Stephen Sharp: If you use too much Saffron in a recipe, your food will result with a medicine like taste. Use just the right amount and saffron will add a unique pleasant and lightly spicy flavor to a dish. Most recipes will call for a good pinch of the threads. Just a quarter teaspoon will season rice for four or six people. Cookbook authors often recommend soaking the threads in water or milk before adding to a recipe. This also encourages that gorgeous yellow color to shine through.
 Saffron Stigmas
Foods Bitz: What foods is Saffron used with the most?
Stephen Sharp: Saffron is commonly used in many Asian dishes as well as various fish and rice recipes. It is the backbone to a French Bouillabaisse. Chefs consider it a must for paella, as well as for arroz con pollo, chicken with rice. Risotto Milanese is the Italian offering for saffron rice. It also can be used in tomato, potato, and soup recipes.

James G. - Austin's Food Critics LLC

For more information on purchasing the finest picks of saffron thread visit one of the following web sites,