The dried stigmas of the flowers of the Saffron crocus are used as a spice and as a coloring agent in food, especially in Indian, Persian and European dishes. It is probably the most expensive spice in the world (by weight).
Basic information and facts
Originates from Greece or Southwest Asia.
Most saffron is produced in the region between the Mediterranean in the west and Iran and India in the east.
The saffron crocus is a domesticated plant which cannot be found in the wild. Flowers are sterile and do not produce seeds.
Annual, biennial, or perennial:
Flowers have purple and are produced for their stigmas which have a deep red color. A plant often produces 4 flowers, which each have 3 stigmas.
Climate and weather:
Prefers a Mediterranean-like climate with hot dry summers, but tolerates cold winters and even frost.
Not relevant. Flowers are sterile and plant must be reproduced in a vegetative manner.
The saffron crocus is usually 20 to 30 cm tall.
Type of soil:
Grows well on soils with high organic content.
Grows best in full sunlight.
Cannot be produced from seed. This crocus is only propagated vegetatively by breaking up the corms (underground bulb-like parts) and then replanting them.
Flowers are picked and stigmas are removed by hand and then dried. It takes about 150 flowers to produce 1 gram of dry saffron threads.
Used as a spice and for coloring food.
Proverbs and Quotes
- An ass does not know the importance of saffron. – Kashmir proverb – (A stupid person does not know the importance of quality.)
- To put saffron in cooking sheep’s paunch. Kashmir proverb – (Wasting resources or talent.)
- A man who is stingy with saffron is capable of seducing his own grandmother. (Norman Douglas)
- I must have saffron to colour the warden pies; mace; dates? – none, that’s out of my note; nutmegs, seven; a race or two of ginger, but that I may beg; four pound of prunes, and as many of raisins o’ the sun. (William Shakespeare, In: The Winter’s Tale)
- I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. (Hamlin Garland)
- Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
- If I had a palace made of pearls, inlaid with jewels, scented with musk, saffron and sandalwood, a sheer delight to behold – seeing this, I might go astray and forget You, and Your Name would not enter into my mind. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib)
Did you know that?
- Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
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