1 gr. Organic, Morocco
Fresh and the best.
Saffron comes from the stigmas of the violet-hued saffron crocus, and was first cultivated thousands of years ago in the area around Greece. Saffron grows particularly well in the valleys of the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco, and Moroccan saffron is some of the most fragrant available; it's strongly perfumed, with an aroma of honey and a pungent bitter-honey flavor.
Saffron is essential to the Moroccan kitchen where it is used frequently in both savory and sweet preparations. Try flavoring rice, couscous, and even mayonnaise with saffron, or go all out and prepare an authentic Moroccan tagine - a richly flavored, stew-like dish often involving lamb (or other meat) and vegetables. For an unusual dessert, pair saffron with cardamom in a delicious rice pudding.
About Moroccan Saffron
Taliouine, in the valleys of central Morocco's High Atlas Mountains, between the cities of Ouarzazate and Agadir, is Morocco's saffron capital. In ancient times, women collected the stigma from each flower - a long and painstaking process - which grow wild along the mountainside. This is where Mustapha's saffron is collected today.
Now, there are several hundred hectares of flowers grown on light, chalky hillsides at an altitude of between 4000 - 6500 feet specially for saffron production. The bulbs come into flower towards the end of October, when the harvesting begins each year. Harvesting is still no easy job, and the delicate procedure takes between 15 and 20 days, working only during the early hours of the morning, before the flower heads open to the sun.
The flower stigmas are carefully removed, dried and stored in waterproof sacks, well away from direct light, in order to preserve their quality and flavor. It is easier to understand the price of saffron once you realize that it takes an average 100,000 flowers to produce a single kilogram of dried saffron!
Supply is limited
My memory of growing up is filled with bright colors and even brighter smells. Some of my most favorite memories are of the flavors, the foods, and of course, my Mother's cooking.
These meals often started with a trip to Casablanca and the oldest market in the city. My family and I would make the arduous trip of driving through the tiny, narrow streets, up and down secret alleys to find parking. From there, we would weave through the crowds of shoppers and orange vendors to the first pavilion which was dedicated to fruits and vegetables.
Then, it was on to the fish people, the meat people, and finally to the spice people who were a bit farther away from all the other shops so that they wouldn’t get any fish or other smells in their spices. Unlike here, where so many foods come wrapped up tightly, the spices in the market are displayed in cone shaped piles, so that they can be smelled and tasted before they are purchased.
The favorite (and best) spice merchant, to Chefs and foodies alike, is where my family has been going for over 30 years.
Ba Omar, as we call him, is from Essaouira, learned the spice trade from his father. Everyone in his family is in the spice business. It's a non-stop operation, where everyday they receive and sell spices in their shop.
In addition to cultivating his own spices for the shop on the land he owns, Ba Omar travels the countryside every month to select and buy spices. He then brings back the spices he finds to his shop to be meticulously finished by hand. His wife and daughters handle all the selecting, grinding, milling, and sun drying, each and everyday.
The shop doesn’t have any electrical equipment, like most of the spice shops in the market do. Instead, they have chosen to do everything by hand. It is part of the charm of the market and a strong memory for me hearing the sounds of Ba Omars’ grinding of mortar and pestle.
Of all the spice options I wish for now, seeing the Moroccan saffron that Ba Omar offered me, that made the decision for me. Rarely seen outside of Morocco, this organic saffron comes from the very famous village of Taliouine, in the Atlas Mountains. Saffron is very sacred in the Morocco and is still treated by the traditional people as it was in ancestral and cultural history, as a valuable bond.
I have chosen to air-ship in every order for the Chefs and ChefShop.com. This ensures amazing freshness from every shipment. This saffron is just as my Mom would select, and what she uses at home. Though I can’t go to the market like I used too, it is a memory of bright colors and smells that I can share with you. -- Medhi, Seattle Moroccan