The Produce Quiz – What Am I?

I am the world's most expensive spice. Cultivated in the Mediterranean area since ancient times, they say I originated in Asia Minor, and who am I to argue? A favorite of the Phoenician traders, they took me everywhere. Thanks to them, I can be found in Spain, my major producer, as well as Cornwall, England, where I was traded for tin. You won’t notice my underground corm, but you’ll be mesmerized in autumn by my lilac-purple flowers with protruding red stigmas. My stigma is the main thing. Only have three stigma per flower, you will need about 251,789 of my flowers just to make one pound of me. If you're lucky enough to find my flower, call your friends and relatives because my stigma has to be picked from my flower by hand. Because of this intensive process, you will often find me adulterated with the likes of water, oil, safflower, arnica, turmeric, or marigolds. To keep me pure buy me as a thread not ground. Remove air and light, and I'll hang around. If you come across my meadow variety, stay away; it's a killer and will make you crocus. Look for my sativus variety, as it is most prized and will taste best. Used in bread as part of a traditional Christmas feast in Sweden, I am also an essential ingredient in paella and bouillabaisse. A nice bath before use allows me to blend thoroughly. We're not big on nutrients but we’ve been known to relieve flatulence and stimulate menstruation. Just a pinch of me will do, or I'll turn your food purple through and through.

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Produce Quiz courtesy of
Richard Liebowitz
Culinary Specialty Produce

The answer to last week's quiz: CREAMER POTATO
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