The world’s most expensive spice, saffron is the stigma plucked from the purple-flowered crocus. Each flower has only three stigmas, and a five-acre plot yields between 500 and 750g of this hand-picked spice.
Saffron grading is lab tested, with A and B being the highest of four grades. A-grade has the deepest red and is the most concentrated in flavour; B-grade, which comes from a different section of the stigma closer to the base of the flower, is still of exceptional quality.
Also known as: Crocus sativus
Soak a pinch of saffron threads in warm water, using both the golden liquid and strands in cooking. Alternatively, add the dry threads into slow-simmering dishes in the early stages of cooking. Saffron pairs well with seafood, vegetables and chicken; dairy, rice and pasta; and rose, citrus, apple, cardamom, honey, nuts and dried apricots.