Wednesday food word: bastard saffron

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Bastard saffron

Saffron, of course, is an absolutely stunningly delicious spice that is derived from the yellowish-orangey stigma of the purple crocus. It’s the spice that turns paella and risotto Milanese a wondrous yellow colour and adds a heady, earthy aroma that drives appetite.

Bastard saffron of saffron thistle (Wikimedia Commons).

The other stigma of saffron? The price. A little goes a long way, but it takes nearly 15,000 little wee stigmas, intensely picked by hand, to give you an ounce of saffron.

Bastard saffron is safflower oil that comes from the seeds of safflower, which is also known as saffron thistle, picture here, or bastard saffron.

Crocus-stigma saffron (

The qualities of bastard saffron don’t make it saffron, of course, but safflower oil is a polyunsaturated oil excellent for frying because of its high smoke-point; it’s also good for salad dressings because it doesn’t solidify when you store it in the fridge.

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