Saffron usually has a honeyed, almost floral smell. However, you may also notice hay-like aromas, or even more mineral notes as of the sea. And a little goes a very long way - just a pinch is enough to impart deep, golden yellow colours and a distinctive flavour to whole dishes.
Saffron is the stigmas of purple crocus flowers. Each crocus produces only three stigmas. These must be hand harvested to make sure the delicate strands stay intact.This labour-intensive process dictates much of the price of saffron. That, and the fact that it takes around 150 crocuses to produce a single gram of saffron. The stigmas are then air-dried in the dark and lightly fermented to make them ready to use as a spice.