Production and Price: Saffron production is very labor intensive.. A pound of dry saffron (0.45 kg) requires 50,000–75,000 flowers, the equivalent of a football field's area of cultivation. Some forty hours of labor are needed to pick 150,000 flowers. Upon extraction, stigmas are dried quickly and (preferably) sealed in airtight containers. All of which makes Saffron extremely expensive, costing as much as $1000 per pound. Luckily a little goes a long way.
Usually sold dried in long thin threads. Sometimes available in a powdered form.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Since heat releases saffron's flavor essence, the best way to extract flavour from saffron is to soak the threads in a small amount of hot (not boiling) liquid for 5 to 20 minutes (there are those that contend that a minimum of two hours soaking is necessary to properly disperse aroma, flavor and color). Then add both the saffron and the liquid to the recipe. Saffron threads can be soaked in water, stock, wine or milk. Just make sure that all the saffron threads are immersed, without crushing.
Conserving and Storing
Store saffron in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to six months for maximum flavor. Saffron, like other herbs and spices, is sensitive to light, so wrap the packet in foil to protect it further. It will not spoil, but it will lose increasingly more and more of its flavor with age.