Saffron, with its sweet smell reminiscent of honeyed hay, and glorious golden color, has long been prized throughout history as a delicious spice and a valuable golden-yellow food dye. Produced from a beautiful purple crocus, the parts used to make both spice and dye are the stigma and styles, tiny protrusions from the heart of the flower. So small are these parts that it takes between 50,000 and 75,000 flowers to produce one pound of the dried spice, making it no surprise that it is said to be worth its weight in gold! High quality saffron is saffron which has a decent coloring capabilities (completely red ) ,and has a pleasant aroma.
Originating in Southwest Asia, it is now cultivated in large amounts in Iran, Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco, and Italy. Iran accounts for nearly 94% of the world´s production, with the vast majority of it being produced in the southern regions of the country. Small cultivations are found throughout the world and can be seen in specialty markets, but these seven countries are the world´s largest producers of commercial saffron.
The spice that is cultivated for our use cannot be found in the wild; all of it produced now is from the domesticated strain called Crocus sativus. Selective breeding has resulted in the sterile strain that is our modern plants. Common autumn crocus, or Colchicum autumnale, has been mistaken for its domestic counterpart, sometimes with deadly results.
In addition to its wonderful taste and deep golden-hued dye, it possesses myriad healing properties. Saffron is proven to help with Alzheimer´s disease, depression, skin carcinoma, weight loss, PMS, breast cancer, and a host of other health issues. Documentation has been uncovered to show the use of the spice in treating more than 90 ailments over the course of 4,000 years. Saffron has different name in any country, the word saffron is the most common. some famous names are : azafrán (in Spanish) , safrane (in France ) , zaferano ( in Italian ) and zuffron ( in Hindi ) It is by far one of the oldest herbs ever used for medicinal purposes in the history of mankind and up to this date it is still being used in some regions of the world such as India. As an example, liquid saffron is good for nausea and does not lower the blood pressure. Of the 250 times the herb Saffron is called for, approximately 200 refer to its use as a tea - more than any other tea mentioned in the readings - ranking fifth among the herbs named. Teas which appear often in the readings are Watermelon Seed, Mullein, Camomile and Ragweed in that order, but Saffron leads the list by a wide margin. Europeans are believed to be among the first to use saffron as a spice in their cooking. Saffron is also used in many other industries such as the tobacco industry, alcohol industry, dairy industry, cosmetic industry for perfumes and facial creams, and the dye industry, use as a fabric dye . Cleopatra used it to give her skin a golden color and romantic aroma. Saffron is also used in religious ceremonies. Tibetan Monks use saffron for prayer and blessing. Calligraphers have used saffron to write religious books such as the Koran.
With so many beneficial properties, saffron is highly sought after and prized for its valuable assets. As with any prized possession, there are bound to be counterfeits. Use the information you´ll find here to learn all about the spice, from its botany to quality grading, and how to distinguish genuine saffron from imitations