History of saffron

Originally from Kashmir and Nepal, saffron has been cultivated since ancient times in the Mediterranean area. It travelled with the Arabs to Eastern Asia and then arrived in Maghreb around the 9th century.

In France, saffron was probably first introduced during the Roman Empire.
In the Middle Ages, it was extensively cultivated, and was used both for its dyeing and therapeutic attributes. To begin with it was cultivated in Quercy and the whole south of France, then saffron progressively spread to the north and more particularly to the Gâtinais area.

Nowadays, Iran, Kashmir and India are the top producing countries for saffron, followed by Morocco; these are countries where labour is cheap.
None the less, the quality of the saffron is very different from one country to another.
The methods of production vary considerably and the origin of the corms (mother corms) is essential.
Oct8bre only produces vintage saffron, which has not been exposed to the sun, and exploits only the last third of the pistil taken from corms of crocus sativus from Quercy
mother corms.

The use of saffron can be traced back to the early ages. The stimulating, digestive, antispasmodic, euphoric properties of saffron have often been quoted by authors such as Homer, Pliny the Elder, Virgil, Quintus Curcius Rufus, Hippocrates and many others...

It was drunk as an infusion, applied on the skin mixed with grease that had been macerated in she-ass milk for its eternal youth virtues.
In Egypt, India, Greece and in Rome, not only was saffron used to season and colour the food, but also for celebrations and especially for religious ceremonies.

Fabrics, togas of ancient Egypt, royal clothes, veils of the Roman women, medieval illuminations, Buddhist monks tunics all shone with an intense, almost surreal yellow, that enhanced the myth of this sacred flower for ever after.
It is said that in Greece, young Crocos and his friend Hermes were playing together at throwing the disc. When it was his turn to throw, Hermes was dazzled by the sun and his disc hit Crocos in the forehead provoking a fatal wound. Where blood was shed, came out of the earth a beautiful flower with blood red stigmas that became the symbol of life and resurrection.

Today, saffron has made a big come back, in chic and trendy cuisine, to add flavour to meat, fish, rice and pasta. It enhances the taste of desserts in a subtle way and adds a refined touch to presentation.
Ranked highest among the spices in the world, saffron enhances savory as well as sweet dishes, far from dominating, it gives a pleasantly spicy taste in the mouth, illuminating our plates, charming our palates, carrying with it the mysteries of the East.

Fake saffron

The price per gram of saffron has always tempted deceitful people attracted by easy gain.
Indeed, several products labelled and sold as saffron often are a complex mixture with other spices or simply a totally other plant.

Saffron powder is too often impure. Whole pistils are ground while safranal is only contained in the last third of the pistil. This technique enables people to triple the weight of the final production and to sell it at the price of saffron.
Bitterness dominates, the sourness irritates the nose, pigments are less condensed.
After analysis, traces of iron oxide, ground bricks, chalk or turmeric (Indian saffron) have sometimes been found in some preparations.

To deceive the buyers who are careful with the powder, they don't hesitate to sell petals of safflower or calendula instead of pistils of saffron.
These petals have dyeing characteristics but add absolutely no flavour.

A good saffron can be recognized by the very distinctive shape of its stigmas (3 stigmas per pistil). They have to be thin, and end with a little funnel which is vermilion red when fresh and blood red after it is dried.
The saffron must be rid of any little yellow part on its thinest extremity. These yellow traces bring out bitterness.

Directions for use :

The infusion

Always caring about the satisfaction of its clients, oct8bre has preferred individual dose packaging.

To prepare a dish for approximately ten people, bring water to the boil , fill the 100mg dose with the simmering water, put back the lid and leave to infuse for 4 hours minimum, the ideal is to let it infuse for 24 hours to liberate all the aromas and pigments.
The next day, you will have an amazing infusion with a enchanting colour.

This precious infusion will be added at the end of the cooking process in order to keep the subtlety of the aromas. A long boil or a frying would destroy the aromatic molecules and would only leave the pigments.

Doses and proportions

sauces :

0,1g (1 dose) for 250g of fresh cream

rice and pasta :

0,2g (2 doses) for 500g of rice, pasta...

sweets and deserts :

0,1g (1 dose) for 1 liter of milk

breads and cakes :

0,1g (1 dose) for 500g of flour

Dressing :

0,8g (8 doses) for 1 liter of vinegar, 1 liter of oil.

Cocktails :

0,8g (8 doses) for a liter of white or red wine.

Most of the times 100mg are needed for 8 to 10 people, which corresponds to an extra cost of 30 ct. of Euro per plate. Who said saffron was a prohibitive price?