Located in La Mancha region, ANTONIO SOTOS, S.L. is the fourth generation in a family business with over 90 years experience dealing with saffron. Established in 1912, it soon focused its business overseas, being one of the pioneer companies in the foreign trade of saffron.
Its scientific name (Crocus Sativus L.) comes from kroke, a word of Greek origin meaning filament and Sativus means cultivable. It is a bulbous and perennial plant which belongs to the Iridaceae family. The flower is characterized for having an intensive purple colour and the stamens are yellow and there are three red stigmas. These stigmas are joined to the base of the flower by the style and once removed, toasted and dried become what we know as saffron.
For healthy growth and development, the plant requires a continental climate, being able to resist high temperatures and intensive cold. The plant does not need too much water, although there are 2 seasons during the year, spring and autumn, where the plant requires more humidity-in spring for favouring bulb formation and at the beginning of autumn to help flowering. The planting of bulbs is done between June and September.
Harvesting time is at the end of October to beginning of November. The rose blooms at dawn and must be picked from the soil instantly. Lengthy exposure to light must be avoided, otherwise the flower withers and the stigmas lose colour and aroma.
Afterwards, the stigmas are taken out from the rest of the flower. This work done by hand is called “monda” or “esbrinar” and is considered as the most delicate part of the whole process.
Later, the stigmas are toasted and dried. The aim is to keep the saffron in perfect conditions. Remember that saffron is basically made of water and presents a high grade of humidity. We should obtain 200 grams of saffron ready for consumption with every kilogram of natural stigmas.
To conclude, the saffron must be kept in a dry place and protected from the light.
USES AND PROPERTIES OF SAFFRON
The use of saffron as a remedy against numerous harms and ions has its origin during the Classic Antiquity.
During many centuries saffron was considered as the elixir of the life because of its characteristics and chemical composition.
Saffron properties for the human beings’ health are endless and demonstrable. I should emphasize its tonic character (appetite stimulant) helps digestion, fight against cough and bronchitis, helps menstruation, fortifies heart and eliminates liver obstructions.
Other uses conferred on the saffron are as follows:
- Confectionery and distillery.
- Textile industry as colouring agent.
Saffron (Crocus Sativus) is regarded as the finest and delicate spice. Saffron has endless gastronomic qualities. Saffron has a particular strong and exotic aroma, as well as a slightly bitter taste. Saffron is great at adding flavour, able to transmit deep aromas, but at the same time it is smooth and tender being the only one irreplaceable spice in many of Spanish and International recipes.
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