Last minute Crocus Sativus, the saffron Zafferano Purissimo di Cascia


Crocus Sativus, the saffron Zafferano Purissimo di Cascia

Discovering Umbria

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The saffron is an fascinating ancient flower which has crossed the story of humanity offering itself for thousands of uses to the most different civilizations of all times. It came probably from Asia Minor and was used as colouring agent, in cosmetics and gastronomy. It was known by the Egyptians, mentioned in the Bible and in the Song of Songs, used by the Greeks, the Romans and in the Middle Ages and spread in the West by the Arabians.

It's use has come down to us and in Umbria still exist two zones, where it's cultivation has been developed to an excellent level. One of these zones is the town Cascia, where the soil, the climate and the environment allow the delicate plant to grow and develop maintaining whole it's characteristics.

The saffron which is used for culinary preparations is obtained by the dried stigma of the violet flowers of the Crocus Sativus, a tiny but very coloured plant which doesn't grow more than 13-14 centimetres.

The saffron flowers are picked by hand between October and November in the early morning hours at dawn, when the flowers haven't opened yet, because the direct sun beams would damage their organoleptic qualities. The same day the stigma get separated from the flowers and dried toasting them on wood embers at about 40° centigrade.

The great value of the final product is determined by the very attention which is necessary during the picking and the separation of the stigma from the flowers. Moreover, in order to obtain one gram of saffron more than 200 flowers are needed.

The use of saffron has found the right base in the territory's gastronomy for the preparation of traditional dishes which combine best the ancient flavours with the new tendencies of taste. One can taste delicious cheeses like saffron pecorino, saffron ricotta and saffron caciotta, delicious starters like truffle and saffron risotto or the local game enriched with the fragrance of this wonderful spice.

Recently almost all producers joined in a syndicate, the Associazione dello Zafferano di Cascia - Zafferano Purissimo dell'Umbria, with the aim to promote and spread the knowledge about saffron. One of the most prestigious initiatives is without any doubt the organization of the exhibition market Mostra Mercato dello Zafferano di Cascia, that takes place towards the end of October, the period in which the saffron flourishes. During the event one can taste and buy the saffron and many other local products with which it can be combined, creating so delicious dainties for refined palates.
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