We select our saffron directly from Karima, a producer in the Herat region, Afghanistan. This saffron is category 1 (extra), analyzed and certified as pure saffron by the ISO3632 standard with the following rates:
crocin: 284 (color) / picrocrocin 108 (flavor) / safranal 43 (fragrance)
We only offer the stigma stripped of its style (yellow part), concentrating all the power of saffron. What is called saffron neguine.
Where does saffron come from?
Cultivated for more than 3000 years, saffron is of Greek origin, Crete more precisely.
Descended from the wild crocus, the Crocus cartwrightianus, the Crocus sativus was recognized for its long pistils and was then cultivated. The spice represents the pistil of the flower.
Crocus sativus is a bulbous plant that gives rise to a purple flower during the fall. It is a plant whose cycle is reversed to the others: it flowers in autumn, develops in winter then the plant dies in spring to disappear with the first heat. The underground bulb will remain in vegetative rest until its next new cycle. It is one of the oldest cultivated spices.
Since its cultivation in Greece, saffron has spread first around the Mediterranean then to the East (Persia, Asia) and West. In Europe it was the Moors who introduced it from Spain to France. They left their know-how in the region of La Mancha in Spain (today Safran AOP La Mancha) and in France in particular, in Quercy and Albigensian in 732.
How to recognize a real saffron?
First of all, the purchase of Saffron powder must be completely excluded. You can never be sure if the powder contains only saffron. Always take raw saffron in pistils.
If you know the shape of the pistil and therefore the stigmas of a saffron, you will have no problem recognizing it. The stigma is purple-red and is slightly flared at its top.
Pistil, stigma what is the difference? The flower provides a pistil which consists of 3 small branches called the stigma.
A very simple technique then allows you to recognize a real saffron: Take one or two stigmas, place them on a white sheet of paper. Moisten your finger and move the stigma by pressing lightly on the leaf, you will immediately see that the stigma clearly and frankly colors the leaf in orange yellow. It's saffron.
Any other colors (brown, red, purple, etc.) will indicate a falsified product.
Also check if the crocin, picrocrocin and safranal levels are displayed, they show that the saffron has been analyzed.
Standards to qualify it and combat fraud:
Since 1993 there have been ISO standards that help fight fraud and help recognize quality saffron producers. Saffron is considered pure when it complies with the requirements set out in the ISO 3632 standard and no material has been added to the natural product.
In addition, three chemical compounds are analyzed through this standard: Picrocrocin which gives the taste of saffron, Crocin for the yellow-orange color and Safranal, a volatile oil, which gives it its fragrance.
The ISO 3632 Standard establishes standard categories of saffron. It offers four classes; from the weakest category IV to the best category I. Saffron samples are classified according to their concentration of Picrocrocin, Crocin and Safranal, analyzes carried out in certified laboratories.
How to use saffron?
Saffron is an infusion spice. It should not be used otherwise, at the risk of having little taste. Take lukewarm water and let your saffron infuse for 2 hours so that it releases all its fragrances and aromas. Then use this infusion for your cooking. Never use saffron with boiling water or in a simmering dish. Indeed, heat above 70° tends to break down the aromatic compounds of your saffron (especially the Safranal responsible for its fragrance). However, it is possible to infuse your saffron directly in a simmered dish: Turn off the heat, wait for the dish to become lukewarm, add the pistils. Leave to infuse, then heat to serving temperature.
How to store saffron?
Like all other spices, although it is aesthetic, it should not be exposed to light. Keep your saffron in a small opaque box and keep it in a dry place away from moisture. Saffron can thus express all its power for up to a year and a half or even two years.
Picking saffron turns out to be a long-term job: At dawn, you have to pick the flowers one by one, gently remove the pistil and so on throughout the flowering period (4 to 6 weeks). It is this work that makes the price of a kilo so expensive, it is indeed necessary to prune around 150,000-200,000 flowers to obtain a kilo of saffron.
The most expensive spice, really?
However the price per kilo is not a good benchmark, it is only used for its media coverage, because it impresses. Do you look at the price of a ton of wheat if you buy a packet of flour? No.
It must be brought back to its usage proportion. There is approximately 1 pistil, or three stigmas per person. This significantly reduces its cost, about 50 to 60 cents per dish. ; Comparatively, it is much more expensive to make a dish with a vanilla pod.
What is a spice?
A spice is an organic compound. It is therefore of plant origin, unlike salt, which is mineral.
A spice can be a flower pistil (Saffron), a rhizome (Turmeric or Ginger), a tree bark (Cinnamon), fruits (Pepper or Coriander), seeds (Cumin or Nigella), achenes (Fresnes) , flowers (cloves or cinnamon berries), an aril (Mace), leaves (Rosemary or thyme), a nut (Nutmeg) or even zest (Yuzu or Combava).
Their common point? They are all flavor enhancers, they are fragrances. They come into the composition of your dishes to bring either a top note like a Timur pepper delicately sprinkled in a salad, or a heart note with cumin accompanying carrots, or a base note with an intense curry spreading in your whole dish.
Spices or herbs or condiments?
Aromatic: its definition remains unclear and is often defined as a spice or herb or mineral (salt). Its origin comes naturally from aroma, which brings smell. Today we use this term less and less, unlike the widely used aromatic herbs which include a whole series of non-exhaustive plants (Dill, Rosemary, Thyme, Savory, Basil, etc.)
Condiments: Condiments represent a larger class of flavoring elements. You will find both sauces (soya, mustard, ketchup, etc.), liquids (vinegar, tabasco, etc.), vegetables (pickles, chutneys, spices, herbs, aromatic herbs, etc.) and substances of animal origin (background, viandox, etc.)
Spices: These are all the condiments, spices or aromatic herbs of plant origin that bring flavor to a dish.
The paradox of flavors
A spice is therefore the essential element in his kitchen that will bring flavor to the dishes. When it is ground, we store it either in glass or tin jars. As soon as it is opened, it will begin to inexorably lose its flavors. Oxidation, light and humidity are the main causes of this degradation. The aromatic compounds eventually fly away and the taste disappears.
This is the paradox of flavors: the spice is the element that brings flavors while we preserve them in such a way that its flavors inevitably diminish.
Spice powders should be stored without any exposure to air, light or moisture.
Have the original flavors of the spice available at any time for an unparalleled taste
The aromatic richness of our spice cartons is the result of a succession of controlled steps. This chain of steps is our backbone, it is the very essence of our business, giving us the guarantee of bringing you the original and intact flavors of the spice.
Pure origin: We first carry out our search for producers, focusing mainly on production areas known for their quality of spices. We visit these producers and select them based on the fruit of their labor, the authenticity of the relationship and the ability to build mutually and sustainably.
The reception of whole spices: We coordinate with our producer for the sending and reception in France of these whole and freshly harvested spices. Upon receipt, they are checked, stored and protected on our premises.
Grinding and pods, two linked steps: The grinding is carried out by us and requires very special attention in order to guarantee you an exceptional product. This attention goes through cold grinding so as not to deteriorate the aromatic compounds. This grind will then be sieved delicately. Immediately after the grinding stage, we package the spice powders in the pods. This is a quick step so that all the essential oils and volatile aromatic compounds are found in full in the pod.
You thus have and when you want a spice with an unequaled taste, always fresh and full of flavors.
Who is Max?
I have always appreciated nature, plants and the use that can be made of them in terms of gastronomy. My mother was born in Madagascar in 1932 (Alarobia, Tananarive) and lived there for about thirty years. I inherited three of his passions: Cooking, Spices and Botany. Through this company, I decided to reproduce the use of spices that she made; Always use a freshly ground spice for an explosion of flavors.
A powder in a jar does not make sense. It inevitably loses its organoleptic properties. The pod allows me to reproduce this use, to deliver, to make the cook discover all the original aromatic richness of a spice. Botany gives me the opportunity to be rigorous in the selection of spice varieties directly from producers.
The kitchen helps me know how to stage these spices and compose different spice blends that we offer. Somewhere this pod makes you share the original aromas of the spices of my childhood
The use of spices
Spices are flavors that we add to our dishes. They will bring both smell and flavor. They can go everywhere as well in vegetables, meats, fish, cheeses, desserts as drinks.
He agrees that the norm is one teaspoon for a dish of 4-6 people. However, depending on tastes and sensitivities to these fragrances, the dosage can be increased or reduced.
The history of spices
Spices are, for the most part, of tropical origin. They have as their cradle part of Asia and America. They have fascinated women and men since the night of time, sometimes becoming products that we snatch at exorbitant prices and they have shaped the world through the various colonial conquests (land or sea) for nearly 500 years.
There are traces of their use in perfumery, medicine and cooking in Mesopotamia and Egypt more than 2000 years ago. The Arabs then made it a real important trade in spices from Asia and the Middle East to then distribute them throughout Europe.
In the Middle Ages they became products that only the upper middle class and the courts could afford, they were part of their "standing". This social class increasing more and more from the 15th century, the tension on the demand and therefore the supply was felt significantly. Spices were valued like gold or precious stones, pushing the conquerors to seek a direct sea route to India, thus freeing themselves from the various intermediaries of the land spice route.
Thus from the 15th century, the Portuguese launched the first conquests with Christopher Columbus in 1492. He thought of discovering India, he found another continent rich in exotic products and spices. (Chilli, Tonka, Allspice, Pink Pepper, etc.).
Vasco da Gama, considered the first to reach India in 1497 by sea, marked the start of commercial maritime routes. Then the Spaniards, the Dutch, the English and the French also began to explore and market spices. They spread the spices throughout their empire. The French created with Colbert, the Compagnie des Indes in 1664 and also exported spices to the West Indies, Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius.
Spices became a real international trade, dominated by the English at the end of the 18th century.
Spice cultures increased all over the world and became an affordable product from the 19th century. Today we can have more than 300 spices from all over the world
Consumption of spices in France
The French are big consumers of spices, they are in third place at the European level. The use of spices in the Middle Ages significantly influenced our French cuisine (Mixture of Four Spices in gingerbread, terrines, foie-gras; Clove stuck in an onion or an orange, Cinnamon used in desserts, mulled wines, etc. ..)
By the internationalization of communication and exchanges, by the search for taste, by the replacement of salt, by vegetable cooking or even simply culinary discovery, the French are more and more tempted to discover spices.
The market in volume has thus increased by 30% over the last ten years.