frequent questions
Why is saffron so valuable?
Weighing saffron, 19th Century
Saffron (Crocus Sativus L.) flowers only at the beginning of autumn. The flowers are collected daily (for 20 days) in baskets and transported to the warehouse where the stigmas are extracted manually. It is a painstaking, delicate job. All one need state is that approximately 160,000 flowers are required to extract 5.25 Kg of stigmas, that will produce 1 Kg of the saffron we know as a spice once they have been dried.

Where does the word saffron come from?
Even though its origin is unknown, the fact is that it is quite similar in several languages. In Arabic it is “Za`faraan”, in English “Saffron”, in French “Safran”, in Italian “Zafferano”. It was believed to have been introduced to Spain in Roman times, but its use and cultivation expanded with the arrival of the Arabs in Spain.

How must saffron be stored?
Dried saffron is not a perishable product, but in order for it to conserve its properties for a long time, it must be protected from the light, humidity and stored at a constant temperature between 12 and 18 ºC (53 - 64 ºF). Temperatures above 25 ºC ( 77 ºF) accelerate its degradation. A good quality saffron may preserve its properties for 2 years with adequate conservation, but bad quality saffron deteriorates in months.

How can we distinguish good quality saffron from low quality or adulterated saffron?
Unfortunately, we follow our sight when buying a product. In the case of saffron, it may seem that the colour red throughout the product shows good quality, although this is not always the case. We must avoid products that are sticky or soft to the touch, products that cause red colouring on the minimum contact with water and those that have red styles, as that is not their natural colour and, thus, they will have been dyed.

In the case of ground saffron, we must resort to known brands, taking into account that 30 to 50 mg of ground saffron of Category 1 according to ISO 3632 are necessary for preparation of a dish. The only way to compare two kinds of saffron lies in the results and not the appearance.

Is saffron red or orange?
The visual colour, that is, what we perceive with our eyes, has nothing to do with the colouring power or pigmentation capacity of saffron. In fact, saffron stigmas have an intense red colour and the result of the saffron pigmentation is a yellow-orange colour. Moreover, when saffron is ground, as the particle size decreases, the colour perceived by the human eye is more orange hued as the particle size decreases. At 100 micras it is orange and should not be dark red.

Why are Taj-Mahal, Safinter and Jardín saffron considered probably the best in the world?
This is due to the fact that these brands have been a symbol of quality for consumers for decades. By purchasing Taj-Mahal, Safinter and Jardín saffron, you are assured the same quality standard during the whole campaign, year after year.

Which product should I use, ground or filaments?
Previously ground saffron requires less cooking time for better result. Ground saffron is preferred in the West for convenience. However, in the Middle East and Asia, consumers prefer saffron filaments due to tradition and the visual impact of dishes adorned with saffron. It is also true that usual consumers prefer filaments, as it is easier to visually check the quality of the product (colour, length of the filaments, etc.).

What differences are there between different varieties of paprika?
La Vera paprika is a product obtained from grinding the dry pulp of red peppers of the genus Capsicum. Basically, the difference between the strains lies in the different types of pepper used to prepare this spice. Sweet paprika is prepared with strains of the type bola Capsicum anuum L, sweet and sour paprika from the species Capsicum longum L.; lastly, the spicy kind contains hot peppers of the last strain. It is important to emphasise that sweet and sour paprika may be considered a sweet pepper with a characteristic taste, but it is not a spicy variety.

Is the smoked flavour of La Vera paprika an additive?
The smoked flavour and aroma is due to the pepper drying system. It is thus not an additive, but rather the result of the craft drying process. The peppers are dried in special drying facilities where the fresh peppers are in indirect contact with dry branches from pruning scrub or Holm oak, in a slow combustion that takes from 10 to 12 days.

Why is La Vera paprika considered one of the best of its kind in the world?
Due to its high colouring power, characteristic aroma and the stability of the colour against oxidation (resistance to becoming stale). It is a unique, genuine natural product, appreciated by the most renowned chefs.

Safinter S.A., C/ Teodoro Roviralta 21-23 08022 Barcelona (Spain) Tel. +34 93 212 04 22

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