A highly aromatic spice made from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus. This orange colored spice creates a golden tint to a variety of food dishes and a mild, bitter flavor, which adds a very distinctive taste. Saffron is an important ingredient in the Italian dish, risotto, the Spanish dish, paella, and the French dish, bouillabaisse. Since it is the most expensive spice sold in the world, and since only a very small amount is needed to flavor a dish, it can be used sparingly. Adding only 20 to 30 threads per recipe is sufficient for most foods.
Saffron is available as threads (dried stigmas taken from the saffron crocus) and as a powdered form. Red Saffron is the best quality while lower quality Saffron is also available harvested as threads from the "style" of the Saffron flower, which lacks the flavor contained in the red threads. It is always best to buy this spice as threads, since Saffron sold as powder may contain other ingredients, thus lacking in flavor. If stored in an opaque container, tightly sealed and kept out of direct sunlight, it will keep for approximately ten years. If stored in a freezer, the threads become brittle, so they are easy to crush with your fingers and can be added easily to the food being prepared.