Using pure saffron is very simple, we will explain in 3 steps how to use saffron pistils (or more correctly stigmas) for your recipes. The spice called saffron is obtained from the stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower, belonging to the Iridaceae family. Successfully cultivated in Italy, where there are extensive crops in the Marche, Abruzzo and Sardinia. of noteworthy cultivation are found in Umbria and Tuscany.
Each flower opens to the rays of the sun and tightens up when it is dark or raining; inside its corolla it has three stigmas (female reproductive organs) of bright red color, from which the spice is obtained. The stigmas of saffron contain over 150 volatile aromatic substances, making up its essential oil. It is also one of the foods richest in carotenoids (crocetin, α-crocin, picrocrocin and safranal) which give the typical yellow-gold color to dishes, and vitamins A, B1 (thiamin) and B2 (riboflavin).
How to use saffron stigmas
if you want to cook saffron in pistils you’ll have to: put a little very hot water and your stigmas in a cup. You can use broth or milk instead of water. Cover and leave to infuse for 40/60 minutes, you will see the water turn an intense yellow. Pour everything into your recipe, if possible at the end of cooking so as not to cook the saffron. If you do not use your infusion immediately, you can keep it up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. The necessary doses obviously depend on the recipe, for a good risotto we recommend 0.3 grams for 6-8 people, if you want to learn more, see the page dedicated to the doses.
Do not cook the saffron together with your dish, it is much better to add it at the end of cooking to keep the taste at its best. If you have time to extend the infusion period, it is optimal to wait a couple of hours for the organoleptic properties to be released at their best. You can lso dissolve the saffron directly in hot broth, not necessarily in water. If you have to make a Milanese risotto or another recipe (you can even use it with pasta)that allows it, you will avoid watering down your dish.
There are also those who say that it is the infusion in milk that best releases the aroma of the saffron pistils. For example, if you need to make a cream and saffron sauce or a cream then milk is the best solution to use your stigmas. Since the infusion lasts an hour, the ideal would be to keep the water in which we dilute the pistils warm, always hot and never boiling. You can keep the cup in a bain-marie in hot water, but be careful not to bring it to a boil. When the infusion is ready, pour it all in, including the pistils.
In addition to the aroma, you will also add aesthetic value to your dish with the red of the stigmas. If you want to halve the infusion time you can pulverize the saffron, in this case 20 minutes will be enough. In the detailed instructions we explain how to make saffron powder starting from the stigmas. Your saffron infusion prepared in this way is ready to use and can be kept for up to 48 hours. Keep it in the refrigerator.