One Of The Best Way To Lease The Color And Aroma Of Saffron
When it comes to spices, saffron is definitely one of the most exotic. Not only does it add a rich orange color to dishes such as paella and risotto, it has a pungent, slightly bitter taste that adds a complexity to any recipe. However, if you want to get the most out of your saffron, it's important to know how to prepare it in order to draw the flavor and color out of the threads.
Measure the saffron threads. Your recipe will usually tell you how much saffron to use, but there are some general rules that are good to know. Saffron is usually measured in grams, the number of threads, or “pinches.” A “pinch” typically means 20 medium-sized threads of saffron. Use a food scale or count the threads to measure out the saffron.
Adding too much saffron can ruin a dish, so it’s best to err on the side of too little. You can always add more if the taste and color isn’t to your satisfaction.
Counting the saffron threads usually offers the most accurate measurement.
If you’re adding saffron on your own, the rule of thumb is usually to add three strands for each person that you’re serving. Three strands is approximately a ½ teaspoon.
crush the threads. For saffron to really shine in your dish, you need to ensure that its flavor and color are released. The quickest way to do that is to break down the threads. Saffron threads are very delicate, so it’s easy to crush them with your hand. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently grind the threads into pieces. However, if you prefer a more uniform look to the pieces of saffron in your recipe, use a mortar and pestle to crush the threads.
Crushing saffron for use in recipes typically works best if you’re making a recipe that already has water or another cooking liquid in it, such as risotto or paella.
Keep in mind that crushing saffron by hand or with a mortar and pestle doesn’t offer the most attractive appearance because the threads are no longer in tact. However, you can still get a strong flavor, aroma, and color from crushed saffron.
Add to your dish. Once you’ve crushed the saffron threads, simply mix them into your recipe. It’s best to add crushed saffron as early on in the cooking process as possible. That way, there’s enough time for its flavor to infuse the other ingredients and its color to deepen the recipe.
Make sure that there’s already some type of liquid in your pot or pan before mixing in the crushed saffron threads.
Heat a liquid of your choice.
If you’re making a recipe that calls for some type of liquid, such as chicken stock, milk, or white wine, pour enough of the liquid to cover the amount of saffron that you’re using into a pan or pot. Next, heat the liquid on the stove until it’s hot. Be careful not to bring it to a boil, though.
If your dish doesn’t necessarily call for liquid, you can use plain water.
Soak the saffron threads. The most effective way to draw the flavor and color out of saffron is to submerge them in a hot liquid, so you want to soak them thoroughly before adding them to your recipe. In most cases, letting it sit in the liquid for 10 to 20 minutes is enough to prepare the saffron.
Soaking the saffron before adding it to your recipe is the best way to ensure that it’s distributed evenly throughout the dish.
You can usually tell that your saffron has soaked long enough when the liquid starts to give off a strong aroma.
You can crush the threads by hand or with a mortar and pestle before soaking them, but using the whole strands can add an attractive look to your dish.
If you really want a robust flavor and color from your saffron, try soak the threads in room temperature water overnight. Then you can add them to warm chicken stock, milk, wine, or another liquid before adding them to your dish.
Mix the liquid into your dish. When it comes time to add the saffron to your recipe, you don’t just want to remove the threads from the liquid and mix them in. Instead, add all of the liquid, so you get a deeper, richer flavor that pervades the entire dish. Typically, the best time to add the saffron liquid is near the end of cooking, but follow the instructions in your recipe.
You can strain the threads and add only the liquid to your dish if you prefer, but that’s usually only necessary if you’re making a recipe that should have a clear appearance, such as a jelly.
If you plan to leave the threads in your recipe, there's no need to cut or chop them. The intact threads can add texture and visual interest to your dish.
Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Engineering in Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Razavi Khorasan, Iran