Saffron is known for its distinctive chemical, alpha-fructo-oligosaccharides. These molecules make up almost all of the volatile oils produced by the saffron flower and are the key components of the spice’s distinctive aroma.
However, there are other factors that contribute to the saffron’s unique taste. The most obvious is the spiciness, which is due to alpha-caryophyllene, or C14. This chemical has a long history, being present in saffron for about 100 years until the 1950s, though there had already been previous attempts to produce saffron that had the same level of spiciness.
Alpha-caryophyllene is actually a combination of caryophiline, alpha-glucoside, and C14.
These ingredients – which in turn are formed from the seeds of the saffron plant – produce a highly-aromatic, but not particularly spicy spiciness, and can therefore be incorporated into a wide variety of products, from pastries to pasta sauce and sauces made from saffron.
The Spices Used in Saffron
The most widely available spices in Italy are saffron, saffron water, and saffron wine. Because of the availability of these essential oils in large quantities, however, they are highly prized and prized over other essential oils. Because of this, the aroma and taste of saffron is often described as being like that of an old-fashioned wine.
The following list reflects the most common saffron essential oils and describes the quality of the finished products, but more can be found in the full article:
Saffron essential oil characteristics
The most commonly used essential oil for saffron is water. It is naturally obtained from the seed, while the rest of the oils are grown from the corm (seed capsule). As in wine grapes, water is used as a flavoring – this is because saffron is thought to possess a sweet and creamy flavor, which is a bit like the sweetness of wine grapes. The oil is best after a few weeks, as the heat and pressure used to harvest the saffron seed causes the seeds to soften and turn the color of a milk chocolate or apricot.
The saffron wine is produced similarly and is more like an alcoholic tea.
Saffron essential oil and flavor analysis
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