The leaves, the roots and the flowers. We buy saffron for its aromatic value and we can grow thousands upon thousands of saffron plants each year in all corners of the country. But in India, a very rich source is the leaves of Indian and Sri Lankan rabi and mung varieties of corms. These are especially prized, not because of their fragrant quality: the aroma is from the seeds, not the leaves, which are not edible as such. The reason these are not as widely grown in Europe, however, is that the European taste for spices, and therefore for saffron is much sharper; the Indian tastes are much broader-rooted in tastes, even when they grow in close proximity. As for the roots and flowers, we usually buy this for its bright, bold red color. It is not true that Indian and Sri Lankan roots are much inferior to those of European rabi, but they are very different, and you have to remember that these are two different strains of the same species, each grown in its own area in the wild. It is also important to distinguish between two species of saffron. In its native habitat it is a fine, white and yellow flower, very sweet and aromatic; in Europe it is a yellow, dull fruit and has a distinct fruiting habit. It seems the Indian varieties of corms have a red, somewhat bitter, flavor. But as far as we know, not a single European cultivar has been able to make a success of the Indian corms. To summarize: we purchase corms in India because of their distinctive and beautiful flowers, but since they are almost impossible to find in India, we must therefore grow them in Europe.
Did it originate from India?
When you buy saffron from your local farmer, you can be confident that he and all of the Indian farmers are producing the saffron with no outside influences in their heads. The leaves are not picked or even fertilized; the flowers come from one flower and the seeds from another. We cannot know what might come up after the leaves ripen, but if there is a chance that it may have come from India, our farmers will pick it from the plant because they trust their parents and have no incentive to mislead themselves even when they do not know for sure.
Did you buy Indian or imported saffron?
No matter what type of saffron you choose, it is of absolutely essential importance to use a
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