Saffron Flower

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This is the World’s Most Expensive Spice |National Geographic
Discover how this region in northern Iran produces the world’s most expensive spice.
Do you know what the world’s most expensive spice is? Known for its distinct flavor and ability to give food a golden yellow color, saffron is a highly-prized spice that is primarily produced in northern Iran. It comes from the stigmas of crocus flowers that thrive under the region’s dry climate. Knowledge of saffron’s intricate cultivation that has been passed in Iran from generation to generation. Besides cooking, saffron is also used in traditional medicine to treat cardiovascular issues and for possible cancer prevention.

About National Geographic: National Geographic is the world’s premium destination for science, exploration, and adventure. Through their world-class scientists, photographers, journalists, and filmmakers, Nat Geo gets you closer to the stories that matter and past the edge of what’s possible.
Saffron: Autumn Gold – The Spice Of Life – BBC series 1983 Retrodag1
The Spice of Life Series Introduced into Spain by the Arabs, saffron was used in almost all European food in the Middle Ages. See why the labour required in cultivating and extracting the spice limits its use to such special dishes as bouillabaisse of Marseilles, Jewish Challa bread and Spains paella. The Spice Of Life videos here are posted in tribute to Writer, Producer and Director Lyn Gambles http://www.theguardian.com/theguardia…

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IRANIAN SAFFRON saffronirani PURE & HIGH QUALITY IRANIAN SAFFRON

Traveling to Iran’s $1,000,000 SAFFRON BANK!!! + HUGE Iranian Street Food Tour of Mashhad, Iran!!!The Food Ranger



Planting Saffron Crocus OklahomaGardening
(10/8/11) Oklahoma Gardening host Kim Toscano talks with us about the Saffron Crocus and how to properly plant this bulb.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5HmQyGpUSo
How To Grow Saffron Crocos Spice/ Pot Grown Allotment Garden Bulbs Hertfordshire Allotment Life

Ariana uncovers the magic of Persian saffron
Award-winning Iranian-American TV chef Ariana Bundy reveals where saffron comes from, how it is collected and what are the different varieties and products you can buy. Filmed in Khorassan province in northeastern Iran for the series ‘Ariana’s Persian Kitchen’, this is a fascinating insight into the world’s most expensive spice.

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Harvest time for the world’s most expensive spice AP Archive

Razavi Khorasan Province, Mashhad city, Northeastern Iran – November 24, 2007 1. Wide of workers working in Saffron farmland in Mashhad 2. Close-up of Saffron flower with workers in the background 3. Pan of workers picking Saffron flowers 4. Close-up of woman’s hand picking flowers 5. Mid of woman picking Saffron flowers 6. Wide of women working in farmland 7. Close-up of Saffron flowers 8. SOUNDBITE (Farsi) Omol-Banin Zangouee, Saffron farmer: “This flower (Saffron) is very delicate and farming it is quite difficult. For one gram of Saffron we have to pick 150 flowers. Doing this hard job becomes easy because the main thing we deal with is flower.” 9. Wide of women picking flowers and putting them in plastic bag 10. Close-up of Omol-Banin’s face 11. Various of women working on farm Location 30 kilometres from Mashhad 12. Close up of sign reading (Farsi) “Novin Saffron” 13. Tilt up from Saffron flowers to workers pulling flower stigmas out 14. Close-up of hand pulling out stigma 15. Close of worker’s face 16. Various of workers 17. Close of woman examining stigma and cleaning them 18. Mid of woman examining Saffron 19. Wide of workers cleaning Saffron stigma from poor quality Saffron 20. Close-up of digital scale weighing Saffron 21. Tilt up of woman weighing Saffron to factory interior 22. Close-up of hand putting Saffron in containers 23. Various of workers packing Saffron 24. Close-up of hand sticking holograms on Saffron packs 25. Set-up shot of Ali Shariati Moghadam, Managing Director of Novin Saffron Factory observing workers 26. Close-up of Saffron ready for market 27. SOUNDBITE (Farsi) Ali Shariati Moghadam, Managing Director of Novin Saffron Factory: “Iranian Saffron is currently being exported to more than 45 countries and our factory exports to more than 30 of those countries. We even have direct exports to the United States. Majority of Iranian Saffron, about 70 to 75 percent of it is exported to Spain and UAE ( United Arab Emirates ).” 28. Cutaway of women working in factory 29. Mid of woman pouring Saffron powder in laboratory flask 30. Various of laboratory technicians examining Saffron’s quality 31. SOUNDBITE (Farsi) Mahdi Behdad, production manager of Novin Saffron: ” Mashhad and Khorasan Saffron are unique in the world due to their perfect medical value, especially their good effect on the digestive system and breathing mechanism and also their anti-cancer effect and spirit reviving nature.” 32. Wide of laboratory 33. Wide of bazaar in Mashhad 34. Close up of costumer holding a Saffron package 35. Costumers speaking with Saffron seller 36. Close of seller putting Saffron packages in bag 37. SOUNDBITE (Farsi) Fatemeh Ghobadi, costumer: “Saffron cheers up the spirit and it is said that a little bit of Saffron in food will make you giggle! We preferred to buy Mashhad ‘s Saffron as souvenir. Other stuff like sugar-candy are also among souvenirs of this city, but the saffron is beyond compare” 38. Saffron packs in store LEAD IN : Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. The red stigma of the saffron crocus flower is carefully removed and dried, making it a labour intensive, yet delicate task – that contributes to its high value. Iran is the world’s largest exporter of the saffron. STORY LINE: It’s an agricultural task so delicate that machines can’t do it. Even if they could, the saffron flowers that need picking only sprout for two weeks in late autumn. The combination of hand labour and the limited production window is why saffron is so expensive. The Iranian government recently set $793 as a standard price for each kilogram of saffron. Nimble fingers pluck the small, purple, late-blossoming crocuses.

Saffron Processing and Educational Film Sanayee Development Organization

Saffron Morphology, Cultivation and Economic Values Natural & Applied Sciences

How to Grow Saffron Greenmoxie Magazine
In a secret location in the rolling Trent Hills lies something truly unexpected – True Saffron Farm. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and known as red gold for its health benefits and the amazing taste it imparts when used in cooking and baking. Saffron isn’t supposed to grow in Ontario, but it’s thriving under the loving care of Eric and Martin. True Saffron grows some of the finest saffron in the world. You can order on line or learn more at: https://truesaffron.ca/ You can also grow your own with True Saffron bulbs.

Saffron Adulteration in the US Market – Water Test Scott Hall
How to tell pure Saffron from adulterated Saffron: adulterated brands in USA market Immersed in Water: 4:10 Threads Swollen/Discolored/Sinking: 7:20 Water Begins Turning Orange: 10:05 Water Begins Turning Orange-Red: 11:50 Additional Brand tested & compared: 15:20 End Result – Summary: 18:45
Best Saffron Spice Top 10 Rankings, Review 2019 & Buying Guide Ranky10
We announce latest rankings of best Saffron Spice. We researched countless popular items & selected the top 10. If you want to see ranking score, details & price of each item in this rankings, please visit our website. https://ranky10.com/saffron-spice-top… In our health-driven world where superfoods reign supreme, Saffron spice couldn’t have come at a better time. Also known as Kesar are known for their numerous health benefits. Moreover, they are also known for how expensive they are. In fact, saffron spice is considered the most expensive spice on a global scale. We hope this video will help you to choice best Saffron Spice.*
This is Top 10 Ranking list & Amazon listing URL for reference. 1. Zaran Superior Saffron Threads: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B079BQQ… 2. Golden Saffron Grade A+ Premium: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B01MYVD… 3. Movalyfe Coupe Spanish Saffron: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B074JGB… 4. Slofoodgroup Persian Saffron Threads: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B01HOXI… 5. Mehr SS005 Premium Saffron: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B007P4X… 6. Mazaeus Saffron Premium Grade 1: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B07KJSG… 7. Kiva Gourmet Spanish Saffron: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B00EFIP… 8. Cyrus Saffron Premium Stigma Threads: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B019YM7… 9. Redsaff 786 Saffron Spice: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B00OBX2… 10. Lidoma Premium Saffron: https://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/B072XNC…
Saffron Merchant of Shiraz, Iran: How to Buy Saffron? Real Vs Fake

Best Saffron in India with Price 2019 | Top 10 Kesar/Saffron

Saffron From Spain | DW Euromaxx
Castile-La Mancha supplies some of the world’s best saffron, and which is used as a spice, a dye, a fragrance, and for medicinal purposes.

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If you eat saffron this is what happens to your body, impressive benefits of saffron. Saffron is among the world’s most expensive culinary ingredients. This special spice has been around for a thousand years and has a plethora of uses. It is indigenous to the bare and treeless terrain of Greece before it became propagated throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. It thrives best in warm, humid climates. Apart from its unique earthy essence, the health benefits of the saffron what makes it a highly priced spice. Please watch this video until the end to know the complete information.
Health & Heldi
Saffron for Healthy Eyes ChefGiovanni

Saffron ootropicsExpert
In this video you’ll discover the nootropic benefits of Saffron. Including why we use Saffron as a nootropic, recommended dosage, side effects and clinical research. Saffron is the dried stigma of the Crocus sativus plant native to the Middle East. And is the world’s most expensive culinary spice largely due to the way it must be grown and harvested (by hand). As a nootropic, Saffron has been used for thousands of years as an anxiolytic, sedative, and antidepressant. Today, Saffron is used to help manage appetite, for energy and stamina, anxiety, and is a very effective antidepressant. Saffron extracts (crocin & safranal) inhibit the uptake of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which helps improve mood. Saffron inhibits the deposit of amyloid-β which is associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Saffron also inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine (acetylcholinesterase) just like the current medication (donepezil) approved to treat Alzheimer’s. Crocin and safranal which are unique carotenoids in Saffron make it a potent antioxidant. Scavenging free radicals which reduces inflammation, preventing apoptosis, and protecting brain cells and mitochondria. Recent studies show Saffron as effective as some popular prescription antidepressants. And can even help alleviate the s*xual dysfunction caused by these drugs. Recommended Saffron dosage is 25 – 30 mg twice per day. This indepth Saffron review covers: 00:22 Saffron as a nootropic 02:12 How does Saffron work in the brain? 05:27 Saffron benefits 07:35 How does Saffron feel? 08:30 Saffron clinical studies 09:44 Saffron recommended dosage 10:22 Saffron side effects 11:11 Types of Saffron to buy

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Harvest Saffron Flowers & Make Saffron Spice: Simple, But So Tiny! Haphazard Homestead

Saffron Crocus flower in the fall and are the source of Saffron Spice. They are easy to grow as a wild flower. And easy to harvest. But it’s a time-consuming process to pick each Saffron thread out of every Saffron flower! It’s so worthwhile, though, to grow them for yourself, especially since Saffron Spice is so expensive to buy. —————— Saffron Crocus Are Interesting Plants to Grow! In some ways, I think the long, grassy leaves that stay green all winter long, are the coolest part of the Saffron plant. But people are mostly just interested in the flower of the Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativus) – and not even the whole flower. Just the bright red threads that make Saffron Spice. I’m not a great gardener of Saffron Crocus, not by a long shot. But I like that they are almost a wildflower. They can take care of themselves. And their season of flowering is the opposite of most crocus. Saffron crocus flower in the autumn, instead of the spring. Here in western Oregon, the leaves and flowers start coming up in late October. —————— Saffron Harvest – Picking the Flowers Some folks say to harvest the Saffron threads before the flowers open up. Other folks say to harvest them a few hours after the flowers open. Honestly, between the two, I can’t tell any difference in the quality of the Saffron Spice. I just pick flowers as I see them. When the weather is wet, the flowers can get pretty bedraggled. But the threads inside the flower are usually OK. Regardless of the weather, I go out every day and pick the Saffron flowers that are ready — over a two- to three-week period. Once the Saffron flowers are done flowering, I cover the whole area with a layer of wood chips. And they are good to go for the rest of the year. I have them planted in a spot that gets the hot afternoon sun. And they don’t even want any water, through the whole dry summer here in western Oregon. That’s because they go dormant and lose their leaves and disappear during the summer. If you grow Saffron Crocus and have any tips, let me and everyone else know in the comments below. ———————————– Processing Saffron Threads After Harvest Once I’ve picked the flowers, I need to get the Saffron threads out and dried. It’s an easy process. I just pull the Saffron threads out, put them on a plate, and let them dry out of the direct sunlight. Every year, the number of flowers seems to triple. And as my crop of Saffron threads has gotten larger and larger, I realize — growing and harvesting Saffron spice is not a practical retirement plan, even though Saffron threads sell for a good price! I’m not going to process hundreds of thousands of these Saffron threads over 2 to 3 weeks. I’m happy doing just a few at a time, building up a stock of Saffron threads that will last me for a few months. The flowers have such a pleasant scent that it’s a shame to toss them out. So I keep them in a vase for a few days. They fill a whole room with a wonderful aroma. It reminds me of my grandmother. When the Saffron threads have dried out for a few days, I put them in a jar, and store them in my pantry, where it is really dark. If you have any tips or suggestions for cooking with Saffron, let us all know in the comments. So far, my favorites have been Saffron-Braised Celery with wild flowers and wild pin cherries, and Saffron Fingerling Potatoes, with wild chanterelle mushrooms and wild garlic potatoes. ————— The flowers with the Saffron-Braised Celery are fresh Redbud (Cercis canadensis), Wild Field Mustard (Brassica rapa), and Yellow Deadnettle (Lamiastrum galeobdolon), pickled Elephant Garlic flowers (Allium ampeloprasum). And the cherries are wild pin cherries (Prunus avium). Saffron Fingerling Potatoes: butter and saffron, served over Cherry Tomatoes. The other dishes on the plate use Wild Garlic (Allium vinale) leaves and top-set bulbs with Red Pontiac Potatoes. And Wild Pacific Golden Chanterelle mushrooms (Cantharellus formosus).

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Saffron: A Global History (Edible)
Saffron: A Global History (Edible)

by Ramin Ganeshram  | Sep 27, 2020 Hardcover$19.95

Explore the dramatic history of the world’s most expensive spice in Saffron: A Global History. Literally worth their weight in gold, sunset-red saffron threads are prized internationally. Saffron can be found in cave art in Mesopotamia, in the frescoes of ancient Santorini, in the dyed wrappings of Egyptian mummies, in the saffron-hued robes of Buddhist monks, and in unmistakable dishes around the world. It has been the catalyst for trade wars as well as smuggling schemes and used in medicine and cosmetics. Complete with delicious recipes and surprising anecdotes, this book traces the many paths taken by saffron, revealing the allure of a spice sought globally by merchants, chefs, artists, scientists, clerics, traders, warriors, and black-market smugglers.

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The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen
The Saffron Tales: Recipes from the Persian Kitchen

by Yasmin Khan  | Sep 27, 2016 Hardcover$37.00

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Saffron (Crocus sativus): Production and Processing

Saffron (Crocus sativus): Production and Processing

by M Kafi, A. Koocheki, et al. | Jan 4, 2006 $87.95

Saffron is a precious spice which is mainly grown in Iran, India, Spain, Greece, Italy, Pakistan, Morocco, and central Asian countries. Until recently, saffron was perceived only for its value as a spice. However, with recent research findings pointing to the medicinal properties of saffron such as its antimicrobial, anticarcinogenic and antioxidant effects, interest in this plant has increased. The book presents a comprehensive account of saffron which includes the historical background, acerage underproduction, yield and applications, botanical ecophysiology, production technology, irrigation, pests, diseases and weeds, genetics, sterility, reproduction and production of secondary metabolites by in vitro method, economic aspects, indigenous knowledge in saffron production, processing, chemical composition and quality control, and research strategies.

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Altaj Crown 100% Spanish Saffron 1 Oz (28.30 Grams)

Altaj Crown 100% Spanish Saffron 1 Oz (28.30 Grams) 1 Ounce (Pack of 1)$49.99

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Saffron Capsules with 88.50 mg of Saffron Extract. Supplement Contains 180 Capsules. Powerful Antioxidant Provides Mood Boost, Heart and Eye Health Support. High Quality Crocus Sativus Plant Extract.
Saffron Capsules with 88.50 mg of Saffron Extract. Supplement Contains 180 Capsules. Powerful Antioxidant Provides Mood Boost, Heart and Eye Health Support. High Quality Crocus Sativus Plant Extract. 180 Count (Pack of 1)$23.00 

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Saffron Threads,100% Pure Premium Quality Stigmas Only (5 Gram Spanish) [SUPER NEGIN] NON-GMO, organically grown

Saffron Threads,100% Pure Premium Quality Stigmas Only (5 Gram Spanish) [SUPER NEGIN] NON-GMO, organically grown

$40.35

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Premium Selected Spanish Saffron (1 Gram)

Premium Selected Spanish Saffron (1 Gram)
Indian Kashmir Saffron 1 Gram
Indian Kashmir Saffron 1 Gram

by Sonoran Spice $10.95

  • This Kashmiri saffron is 100% pure, premium quality, and sold in a premium quality spice jar sealed in air tight plastic packaging.
  • Bright vibrant red color
  • Wonderful strong pungent flavor
  • Direct from Kashmir India
  • Ships in 2 business days or less guaranteed

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Persian Saffron Threads, Pure Red Saffron Spice Threads | Super Negin Grade | Highest Quality and Flavor | For Culinary Use Such as Tea, Paella Rice, Risotto, Tachin, Basmati Rice (10 Grams) by Vanilla Bean Kings $39.99 ($113.38 / Ounce) 
  • Super Negin Grade Saffron is the world’s most desired and expensive spice. It is commonly used in cooking, baking, medical, and wholistic purposes.
  • Persian Safron Threads are Certified 10 of 10 in Safranal (Aroma), Crocin (Fire Red Color), and Picocrocin (Flavor) according to ISO 3632 standards. which is a Grade A+ rating
  • Our Pure Saffron Stigmas are Naturally Grown, Non-GMO, and Hand Harvested in Afghanistan. Persian Safron is superior to Spanish, Indian, Keshmiri and ALL Other Types.
  • It can be ground into powder form for use in saffron extract supplement and capsules or for steeping Tea Leaves to release a premium yellow flavor. The best choice Saffron for Paella Rice!
  • Triple Inspected to ensure only Fire Red Saffron Threads are included and Packaged in a Luxury Food Grade Gift Tin

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Azlin Bloor
A quick tutorial for liquid saffron, the way I use it in my Persian recipes. Perfect for all your other recipes that call for saffron too.
Ancestors Saffron Technique – How to Retain Colour & Flavor From Zaffran – Unique Tip Recipe. Manisha Bharani’s Kitchen
Ancestors Saffron Technique – How to Retain Colour & Flavor From Zaffran – Unique Tip Recipe. How to get good Colour & Flavor from Saffron or Zaffran. Today I am sharing you our Ancestors technique. This is the Unique technique to extract Colour and Flavor from Saffron or Zaffran. You have to add a pinch Saffron or Zaffran in your recipes and get good deep Colour & Flavor. I am sharing with you all our traditional technique hope you all do try at home. Ancestors Saffron Technique – How to Retain Colour & Flavor From Zaffran – Unique Tip Recipe.

SAFAROMA
This is a question we’ve often been asked here at Safaroma is “How can I make pure saffron tea?”. We’ve tried a few options out but one of our favourites is a very simple recipe below. Click here:
 PREMIUM PURE SAFFRON THREADS | CERTIFIED ORGANIC SAFFRON TEAS —
100% NATURALY-MADE TEABAGS | TRANSPARENT SACHETS — NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVOURS OR COLOURS
How to Use Saffron in your Cooking Mehr Saffron For more information please visit: https://www.mehrsaffron.com/consuming…

Dr Solmaz
How to Prepare Saffron In this video, I will share with you how to prepare saffron so that you can use this aromatic and exotic spice to its fullest potential. Visit www.alliswellthateatswell.com for simple, healthy and exciting saffron recipes!

3 SIMPLE + TASTY Spanish Dishes that use SAFFRON …www.spainonafork.com › All Recipes › Main Dishes13:10 The secret when using saffron, is to just use a little bit. I usually use 1/2 tsp of saffron threads in each recipe …

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Saffron
Saffron https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/

Pronounce it: sah-fron

The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour – slightly bitter, a little musty, and with a suggestion of something floral.

It’s a labour-intensive crop, which means that saffron commands a high price; each crocus produces just three stigmas, which are hand-picked and then dried, and it takes thousands of stigmas to make just one ounce of the spice. Happily, the flavour is better if you use just a little – too much, and it tastes too bitter.

The main saffron-growing countries are India, Iran, Spain, Greece and Italy, although it was once grown in Saffron Walden, Essex, hence the town’s name.

Availability All year round.
Choose the best

As a rule of thumb, the deeper the colour of the threads, the better the quality. Deep red with orange tips is considered to be the best. If the tips aren’t orange it might indicate that the saffron is inferior and has been dyed.

Inferior saffron can also look slightly frayed and worn. If you’re buying saffron in markets abroad, beware of cheap deals – the real thing is always expensive. Avoid anything that’s too yellow, as it is probably a fake. You can also buy ground saffron, but it loses its potency quite quickly and is sometimes adulterated with other ingredients.

Prepare it

To draw out the colour and to ensure that it’s evenly distributed throughout the dish it’s to be added to, steep saffron threads in a little warm water, stock, milk or white wine for about 30 minutes before using. Then add the liquid to the dish, usually towards the end of cooking. If you like, you can strain the threads out before you add the liquid, but it’s a fiddly job, and the threads look good in any case. 

Store it
In an airtight container in a cool, dark place. It will keep for several years.
Cook it

In Spanish paella, French bouillabaise or Italian risotto Milanese. Use in baking, or add to tomato sauce. Add to the water when making rice.

Alternatives Try turmeric.

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How to Use Saffron

Download ArticlePARTS1Buying Saffron2Preparing Saffron3Cooking with Saffron+Show 1 more…OTHER SECTIONSQuestions & AnswersRelated ArticlesReferencesArticle SummaryAuthor Info

Last Updated: June 14, 2020 References Approved

Saffron is painstakingly hand-harvested from the Crocus sativus flower, dried, and sold as the the most expensive spice by weight. Adding a small amount to certain recipes can give food a rich, pungent taste. Saffron may also offer various health and beauty benefits, but the evidence is largely unverified.

Part1Buying Saffron
  1. 1Look for quality saffron. High quality saffron is a bunch of long red strands that are bright red in color. Avoid powdered saffron, as it’s usually mixed with a lot of fillers.
  2. 2Know what flavor to expect. Saffron has a pungent, musty taste and scent with sweet floral accents. When used in excess, however, the taste can quickly become bitter.
  3. 3The colour of red saffron doesn’t change if you dip in water or milk.
    • Saffron has a flavor profile similar to vanilla: sweet and musky. The two typically work well together, but they are not similar enough to serve as strict substitutes for one another.
    • Turmeric and safflower are often used instead of saffron to give foods a similar color, but the flavors are much different.
  4. 4Get what you pay for. Harvesting saffron is a labor-intensive process, so if you want high-quality saffron, prepare yourself for an expensive purchase.
    • Examine the saffron before you buy it. Good saffron consists of fine, evenly sized threads that are deep red in color with an orange tendril on one end and a trumpet-shaped flute on the other. If the tendril looks yellow, the saffron is likely real but of slightly poorer quality.
    • Additionally, a stronger scent also indicates a stronger, better flavor.
    • In comparison, fake saffron may look like shredded, irregular threads with disconnected tendrils and pieces of bark mixed into the package. The scent may not be very strong and usually smells like bark.
  5. 5Opt for whole saffron instead of ground. Simply put, whole saffron has a stronger flavor than ground saffron. Ground saffron can be a good substitute if you cannot find or afford the whole spice, though.
    • If you do decide to buy ground saffron, go through a reputable spice seller. Less honest sellers may cut saffron with other spices, including turmeric and paprika, to reduce the overall cost.
  6. 6Store the saffron carefully. Saffron doesn’t spoil, but it will gradually lose its flavor in storage. Proper storage can preserve the saffron for longer periods, however.
    • Wrap the saffron threads in foil and place them in an airtight container. Store them in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months. For longer storage, keep the container of saffron in your freezer for up to 2 years.
    • Note that ground saffron should be used within 3 to 6 months and stored in an airtight container and a cool, dark place.
Part2Preparing Saffron
  1. 1Crush and soak the threads. The process of crushing and soaking saffron releases the maximum amount of flavor from the threads, so it’s strongly recommended.
    • Take the saffron threads you intend to use for the recipe and crush them into a powder using a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can crumble the threads in between your fingers.[1]
    • Steep the crushed saffron in warm water, stock, milk, or white wine for 20 to 30 minutes. If there’s any liquid in your recipe, use a small amount of the specified liquid from the instructions.[2]
    • Add the saffron and soaking liquids directly to your recipe when called for.
  2. 2Toast the threads. Toasting is another common way to prepare saffron, and it’s especially common for traditional paella recipes.
    • Place a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat.
    • Add the saffron threads to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 or 2 minutes. They should release an even stronger aroma but should not be allowed to burn.
    • Cool slightly and grind the toasted saffron threads using a mortar and pestle. This powder can be soaked or added directly to the recipe.
  3. 3Crumble and add directly. While not ideal, you can crumble and add the threads of saffron directly to the dish while you cook it if the recipe calls for a large amount of liquid.
    • Note that if you use commercially ground saffron, you’ll typically add it directly to the dish instead of soaking it.
Part3Cooking with Saffron
  1. 1Use a small amount. In large qualities, saffron will produce a bitter flavor. It’s best to prepare and use very small amounts in your dishes.
    • When possible, count the threads instead of measuring them by volume. Note that a “pinch” of saffron equals about 20 medium threads, and a pinch is usually enough in most recipes that serve four to six people.
    • When using powdered saffron instead of whole threads, note that 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) of powder equals about 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) of threads.[3] This amount is usually enough for recipes that serve 8 to 12 people; scale it as needed based on the number of servings.
  2. 2Use saffron in grain-based recipes. Most traditional recipes calling for saffron are grain-based, including risottopilaf, and paella.
    • You can find a recipe that calls for saffron or add it to a basic recipe.
    • As a general guideline, add about 30 threads of saffron to four servings of risotto or pilaf made with 12 oz (300 g) of rice. Add 50 threads of saffron to a paella recipe that serves four.[4]
  3. 3Add saffron to desserts. Since saffron has a flavor profile similar to vanilla, it works well in many desserts that typically feature vanilla as the primary flavor.[5] This includes custard, plain pastry, and sweet breads.
    • For custards, only add a pinch of saffron to the recipe per four servings.
    • For pastry and plain cookies, use 15 to 20 threads of saffron for every 8 oz (200 g) of flour called for in the recipe. Note that butter accents the taste of saffron better than margarine.
    • For sweet breads, adding 15 threads of saffron per 1 lb (450 g) of flour will create a subtle flavor, but you can add up to 60 threads for the same amount of flour if you’d prefer a stronger taste.
  4. 4Combine saffron with other flavors as desired. If you want saffron to serve as the primary flavor in a dish, you’ll need to avoid adding other spices, herbs, or aromatics. When mixed with other spices, however, saffron can give dishes an overall deeper flavor.
    • When mixing saffron into dishes flavored with other seasonings, it’s best to use only a pinch. Add the saffron early on so that the flavor can blend into the other ingredients more thoroughly.
    • Seasonings frequently paired with saffron include cinnamon, cumin, almond, onion, garlic, and vanilla. For example, you may see this combination in recipes for saffron rice.
    • If you plan to add saffron to meat or vegetable dishes, gravitate toward those based on light meats and vegetables. For example, you could try adding it to a chicken or cauliflower dish.
Part4Using Saffron for Non-Culinary Purposes
  1. 1Do your research. While saffron is most commonly used in cooking and baking, it can also be used for medicinal or cosmetic purposes. Research the effects of saffron thoroughly before using it for non-culinary purposes, though.
    • Early research suggests that saffron might be effective as an alternative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, depression, menstrual discomfort, and premenstrual syndrome.[6]
    • There is little to no research to suggest that saffron is effective against asthma, infertility, psoriasis, digestive trouble, baldness, insomnia, pain, cancer, or other conditions.
    • Avoid taking more than 12 to 20 grams of saffron since such large amounts can actually be toxic. You should also avoid medicinal saffron if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you’re suffering from bipolar disorder, low blood pressure, or various heart conditions.
  2. 2Take saffron extract for medicinal purposes. Under the guidance of a physician, you could take a pure, high-quality saffron extract to help treat Alzheimer’s disease, depression, menstrual discomfort, or premenstrual syndrome.[7]
    • For Alzheimer’s disease, take 30 mg per day for 22 weeks to improve symptoms. Note that this will not cure the disease, however.
    • For depression, take 15 to 30 mg per day. Continue for six to eight weeks. Results may be as effective as a low-dose antidepressant in some individuals.
    • For menstrual discomfort, take 500 mg of an extract containing saffron, celery seed, and anise up to three times daily for the first three days of menstruation.
    • For premenstrual syndrome, take 15 mg of an ethanol saffron extract up to twice daily while symptoms last. The effect usually kicks in after two menstrual complete menstrual cycles.
  3. 3Make your skin glow. Topical applications of saffron are traditionally used to lighten, brighten, and clear skin. The exact application procedure will vary based on its intended purpose, though.
    • Use a saffron milk mask to hydrate and soften skin. Soak a pinch of saffron threads in about 4 Tbsp (60 ml) of cold milk for several minutes, then splash the mixture onto freshly cleaned skin. After it dries, wash it away with lukewarm water.
    • To treat acne, crush 5 to 6 basil leaves with 10 to 12 threads of saffron, forming a paste. Apply the paste directly to the acne. After 10 to 15 minutes pass, wash away the paste with cool water.
    • To soften skin over the entire body, sprinkle about 30 threads into very warm bath water. Soak yourself in the water for about 20 to 25 minutes.[8]
  4. 4Drink saffron milk. Aside from being a tasty beverage, saffron milk is commonly believed to help brighten your complexion when routinely enjoyed several times a week.
    • Boil 2 cups (500 ml) of whole milk over high heat.
    • As soon as the milk boils, add 2 Tbsp (30 ml) sliced almonds, 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) saffron threads, 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) ground cardamom, and 1 to 2 Tbsp (15 to 30 ml) of honey. Simmer for 5 minutes.[9]
    • Enjoy the drink while it’s still hot.

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Saffron

Read more: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://wiki2.org/en/Saffron

For other uses, see Saffron (disambiguation).

Saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, with its vivid crimson stigmas and styles

Saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, with its vivid crimson stigmas and styles

Saffron 'threads', plucked from crocus flowers and dried

Saffron ‘threads’, plucked from crocus flowers and dried

Saf­fron (pro­nounced /ˈsæfrən/ or /ˈsæfrɒn/) is a spice de­rived from the flower of Cro­cus sativus, com­monly known as the “saf­fron cro­cus”. The vivid crim­son stigma and styles, called threads, are col­lected and dried for use mainly as a sea­son­ing and colour­ing agent in food. Saf­fron has long been the world’s most costly spice by weight. Al­though some doubts re­main on its origin, it is be­lieved that saf­fron orig­i­nated in Iran. How­ever, Greece and Mesopotamia have also been sug­gested as the pos­si­ble re­gion of ori­gin of this plant: Harold McGee states that it was do­mes­ti­cated in or near Greece dur­ing the Bronze Age. C. sativus is pos­si­bly a triploid form of Cro­cus cartwrigh­t­ianus, which is also known as “wild saffron”. Saf­fron cro­cus slowly prop­a­gated through­out much of Eura­sia and was later brought to parts of North AfricaNorth Amer­ica, and Ocea­nia.

Saf­fron’s taste and iod­oform-like or hay-like fra­grance re­sult from the phy­to­chem­i­cals pi­cro­crocin and safranal. It also con­tains a carotenoid pig­ment, crocin, which im­parts a rich golden-yel­low hue to dishes and tex­tiles. Its recorded his­tory is at­tested in a 7th-cen­tury BC As­syr­ian botan­i­cal treatise, and has been traded and used for over thou­sands of years. In the 21st cen­turyIran pro­duces some 90% of the world total for saffron. At US $5,000 per kg or higher, saf­fron is the world’s most ex­pen­sive spice.

Contents
Etymology

Further information: History of saffron

A de­gree of un­cer­tainty sur­rounds the ori­gin of the Eng­lish word “saf­fron”. It might stem from the 12th-cen­tury Old French term safran, which comes from the Latin word sa­fra­num, from the Ara­bic za’farān, which comes from the Per­sian word zarparan mean­ing “gold strung” (im­ply­ing ei­ther the golden sta­mens of the flower or the golden color it cre­ates when used as flavor).

Species

Description
Saffron Flowers

Crocus flowers which yield red saffron stigmas

Saffron onions

Corms

Saffron harvest

Saffron harvest, Torbat-e HeydariehRazavi Khorasan ProvinceIran

The do­mes­ti­cated saf­fron cro­cus, Cro­cus sativus, is an autumn-flow­er­ing peren­nial plant un­known in the wild. It prob­a­bly de­scends from the east­ern Mediter­ranean au­tumn-flow­er­ing Cro­cus cartwrigh­t­ianus which is also known as “wild saffron” and orig­i­nated in Crete or Cen­tral AsiaC. thomasii and C. pal­lasii are other pos­si­ble sources. As a ge­net­i­cally monomor­phic clone, it slowly prop­a­gated through­out much of Eura­sia.

It is a ster­ile triploid form, which means that three ho­mol­o­gous sets of chro­mo­somes make up each spec­i­men’s ge­netic com­ple­ment; C. sativus bears eight chro­mo­so­mal bod­ies per set, mak­ing for 24 in total. Being ster­ile, the pur­ple flow­ers of C. sativus fail to pro­duce vi­able seeds; re­pro­duc­tion hinges on human as­sis­tance: clus­ters of corms, un­der­ground, bulb-like, starch-stor­ing or­gans, must be dug up, di­vided, and re­planted. A corm sur­vives for one sea­son, pro­duc­ing via this veg­e­ta­tive di­vi­sion up to ten “corm­lets” that can grow into new plants in the next season. The com­pact corms are small, brown glob­ules that can mea­sure as large as 5 cm (2 in) in di­am­e­ter, have a flat base, and are shrouded in a dense mat of par­al­lel fi­bres; this coat is re­ferred to as the “corm tunic”. Corms also bear ver­ti­cal fi­bres, thin and net-like, that grow up to 5 cm (2 in) above the plant’s neck.

The plant sprouts 5–11 white and non-pho­to­syn­thetic leaves known as cat­a­phylls. These mem­brane-like struc­tures cover and pro­tect 5 to 11 true leaves as they bud and de­velop on the cro­cus flower. The lat­ter are thin, straight, and blade-like green fo­liage leaves, which are 1–3 mm (0.04–0.12 in), in di­am­e­ter, which ei­ther ex­pand after the flow­ers have opened (“hys­ter­an­t­hous”) or do so si­mul­ta­ne­ously with their bloom­ing (“synan­t­hous”). C. sativus cat­a­phylls are sus­pected by some to man­i­fest prior to bloom­ing when the plant is ir­ri­gated rel­a­tively early in the grow­ing sea­son. Its flo­ral axes, or flower-bear­ing struc­tures, bear bracte­oles, or spe­cialised leaves, that sprout from the flower stems; the lat­ter are known as pedicels. After aes­ti­vat­ing in spring, the plant sends up its true leaves, each up to 40 cm (16 in) in length. Only in Oc­to­ber, after most other flow­er­ing plants have re­leased their seeds, do its bril­liantly hued flow­ers de­velop; they range from a light pas­tel shade of lilac to a darker and more stri­ated mauve. The flow­ers pos­sess a sweet, honey-like fra­grance. Upon flow­er­ing, the plants are 20–30 cm (8–12 in) in height and bear up to four flow­ers. A three-pronged style 25–30 mm (1.0–1.2 in) in length, emerges from each flower. Each prong ter­mi­nates with a vivid crim­son stigma, which are the dis­tal end of a carpel.

Cultivation

The saf­fron cro­cus, un­known in the wild, prob­a­bly de­scends from Cro­cus cartwrigh­t­ianus. It is a triploid that is “self-in­com­pat­i­ble” and male ster­ile; it un­der­goes aber­rant meio­sis and is hence in­ca­pable of in­de­pen­dent sex­ual re­pro­duc­tion—all prop­a­ga­tion is by veg­e­ta­tive mul­ti­pli­ca­tion via man­ual “di­vide-and-set” of a starter clone or by in­ter­spe­cific hybridisation.

Cro­cus sativus thrives in the Mediter­ranean maquis, an eco­type su­per­fi­cially re­sem­bling the North Amer­i­can chap­ar­ral, and sim­i­lar cli­mates where hot and dry sum­mer breezes sweep semi-arid lands. It can nonethe­less sur­vive cold win­ters, tol­er­at­ing frosts as low as −10 °C (14 °F) and short pe­ri­ods of snow cover. Ir­ri­ga­tion is re­quired if grown out­side of moist en­vi­ron­ments such as Kash­mir, where an­nual rain­fall av­er­ages 1,000–1,500 mm (39–59 in); saf­fron-grow­ing re­gions in Greece (500 mm or 20 in an­nu­ally) and Spain (400 mm or 16 in) are far drier than the main cul­ti­vat­ing Iran­ian re­gions. What makes this pos­si­ble is the tim­ing of the local wet sea­sons; gen­er­ous spring rains and drier sum­mers are op­ti­mal. Rain im­me­di­ately pre­ced­ing flow­er­ing boosts saf­fron yields; rainy or cold weather dur­ing flow­er­ing pro­motes dis­ease and re­duces yields. Per­sis­tently damp and hot con­di­tions harm the crops, and rab­bits, rats, and birds cause dam­age by dig­ging up corms. Ne­ma­todes, leaf rusts, and corm rot pose other threats. Yet Bacil­lus sub­tilis in­oc­u­la­tion may pro­vide some ben­e­fit to grow­ers by speed­ing corm growth and in­creas­ing stigma bio­mass yield.

The plants fare poorly in shady con­di­tions; they grow best in full sun­light. Fields that slope to­wards the sun­light are op­ti­mal (i.e., south-slop­ing in the North­ern Hemi­sphere). Plant­ing is mostly done in June in the North­ern Hemi­sphere, where corms are lodged 7–15 cm (3–6 in) deep; its roots, stems, and leaves can de­velop be­tween Oc­to­ber and February. Plant­ing depth and corm spac­ing, in con­cert with cli­mate, are crit­i­cal fac­tors in de­ter­min­ing yields. Mother corms planted deeper yield higher-qual­ity saf­fron, though form fewer flower buds and daugh­ter corms. Ital­ian grow­ers op­ti­mise thread yield by plant­ing 15 cm (6 in) deep and in rows 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) apart; depths of 8–10 cm (3–4 in) op­ti­mise flower and corm pro­duc­tion. Greek, Mo­roc­can, and Span­ish grow­ers em­ploy dis­tinct depths and spac­ings that suit their lo­cales.

C. sativus prefers fri­able, loose, low-den­sity, well-wa­tered, and well-drained clay-cal­care­ous soils with high or­ganic con­tent. Tra­di­tional raised beds pro­mote good drainage. Soil or­ganic con­tent was his­tor­i­cally boosted via ap­pli­ca­tion of some 20–30 tonnes (20–30 long tons; 22–33 short tons) of ma­nure per hectare. Af­ter­wards, and with no fur­ther ma­nure ap­pli­ca­tion, corms were planted. After a pe­riod of dor­mancy through the sum­mer, the corms send up their nar­row leaves and begin to bud in early au­tumn. Only in mid-au­tumn do they flower. Har­vests are by ne­ces­sity a speedy af­fair: after blos­som­ing at dawn, flow­ers quickly wilt as the day passes. All plants bloom within a win­dow of one or two weeks. Stig­mas are dried quickly upon ex­trac­tion and (prefer­ably) sealed in air­tight containers.

Harvesting
Saffron sargol

Saffron sargol

The high re­tail value of saf­fron is main­tained on world mar­kets be­cause of labour-in­ten­sive har­vest­ing meth­ods, which re­quire some 200,000 saf­fron stig­mas to be hand-picked from 70,000 cro­cus flow­ers for each 1 pound (0.45 kg) of saf­fron product. Forty hours of labour are needed to pick 150,000 flowers.

One freshly picked cro­cus flower yields an av­er­age 30 mg (0.0011 oz) of fresh saf­fron or 7 mg (0.00025 oz) dried; roughly 150 flow­ers yield 1 g (0.035 oz) of dry saf­fron threads; to pro­duce 12 g (0.42 oz) of dried saf­fron, 1 lb (0.45 kg) of flow­ers are needed; 1 lb (0.45 kg) of fresh saf­fron yields 0.2 oz (5.7 g) of dried spice.

Spice
Phytochemistry and sensory properties

Structure of picrocrocin:

  βD-glucopyranose derivative
  safranal moiety

Esterification reaction between crocetin and gentiobiose. Components of α–crocin:[37]     β–D-gentiobiose   crocetin

Esterification reaction between crocetin and gentiobiose. Components of α–crocin:

  βD-gentiobiose  crocetin

Saf­fron con­tains some 28 volatile and aroma-yield­ing com­pounds, dom­i­nated by ke­tones and alde­hy­des. An aroma chem­i­cal analy­sis showed that the main aroma-ac­tive com­pounds were safranal – the main com­pound re­spon­si­ble for saf­fron aroma – 4-ke­toisophorone, and dihydrooxophorone. Saf­fron also con­tains non­volatile phy­to­chem­i­cals, in­clud­ing carotenoids, in­clud­ing zeax­an­thinly­copene, and var­i­ous α- and β-carotenes.

The yel­low-or­ange colour of saf­fron is pri­mar­ily the re­sult of α-crocin. This crocin is trans-cro­cetin di-(β-D-gen­tio­bio­sylester; it bears the sys­tem­atic (IUPAC) name 8,8-di­apo-8,8-carotenoic acid. This means that the crocin un­der­ly­ing saf­fron’s aroma is a di­gen­tio­biose ester of the carotenoid crocetin. Crocins them­selves are a se­ries of hy­drophilic carotenoids that are ei­ther mono­gly­co­syl or digly­co­syl poly­ene es­ters of crocetin. Cro­cetin is a con­ju­gated poly­ene di­car­boxylic acid that is hy­dropho­bic, and thus oil-sol­u­ble. When cro­cetin is es­ter­i­fied with two wa­ter-sol­u­ble gen­tio­bioses, which are sug­ars, a prod­uct re­sults that is it­self wa­ter-sol­u­ble. The re­sul­tant α-crocin is a carotenoid pig­ment that may make up more than 10% of dry saf­fron’s mass. The two es­ter­i­fied gen­tio­bioses make α-crocin ideal for colour­ing wa­ter-based and non-fatty foods such as rice dishes.

The bit­ter glu­co­side pi­cro­crocin is re­spon­si­ble for saf­fron’s pun­gent flavour. Pi­cro­crocin (chem­i­cal for­mula: C
16H
26O
7; sys­tem­atic name: 4-(β-D-glu­copy­ra­nosy­loxy)-2,6,6-trimethyl­cy­clo­hex-1-ene-1-car­balde­hyde) is a union of an alde­hyde sub-mol­e­cule known as safranal (sys­tem­atic name: 2,6,6-trimethyl­cy­clo­hexa-1,3-di­ene-1-car­balde­hyde) and a car­bo­hy­drate. It has in­sec­ti­ci­dal and pes­ti­ci­dal prop­er­ties, and may com­prise up to 4% of dry saf­fron. Pi­cro­crocin is a trun­cated ver­sion of the carotenoid zeax­an­thin that is pro­duced via ox­ida­tive cleav­age, and is the gly­co­side of the ter­pene alde­hyde safranal.

When saf­fron is dried after its har­vest, the heat, com­bined with en­zy­matic ac­tion, splits pi­cro­crocin to yield Dglu­cose and a free safranal molecule. Safranal, a volatile oil, gives saf­fron much of its dis­tinc­tive aroma. Safranal is less bit­ter than pi­cro­crocin and may com­prise up to 70% of dry saf­fron’s volatile frac­tion in some samples. A sec­ond mol­e­cule un­der­ly­ing saf­fron’s aroma is 2-hy­droxy-4,4,6-trimethyl-2,5-cy­clo­hexa­dien-1-one, which pro­duces a scent de­scribed as saf­fron, dried hay-like. Chemists find this is the most pow­er­ful con­trib­u­tor to saf­fron’s fra­grance, de­spite its pres­ence in a lesser quan­tity than safranal. Dry saf­fron is highly sen­si­tive to fluc­tu­at­ing pH lev­els, and rapidly breaks down chem­i­cally in the pres­ence of light and ox­i­dis­ing agents. It must, there­fore, be stored away in air-tight con­tain­ers to min­imise con­tact with at­mos­pheric oxy­gen. Saf­fron is some­what more re­sis­tant to heat.

Grades and ISO 3632 categories
Red threads and yellow styles from Iran

Red threads and yellow styles from Iran

High quality red threads from Austrian saffron

High quality red threads from Austrian saffron

Kashmiri saffron package

Kashmiri saffron package

Saf­fron is not all of the same qual­ity and strength. Strength is re­lated to sev­eral fac­tors in­clud­ing the amount of style picked along with the red stigma. Age of the saf­fron is also a fac­tor. More style in­cluded means the saf­fron is less strong gram for gram be­cause the colour and flavour are con­cen­trated in the red stig­mas. Saf­fron from IranSpain and Kash­mir is clas­si­fied into var­i­ous grades ac­cord­ing to the rel­a­tive amounts of red stigma and yel­low styles it con­tains. Grades of Iran­ian saf­fron are: “sar­gol” (red stigma tips only, strongest grade), “pushal” or “pushali” (red stig­mas plus some yel­low style, lower strength), “bunch” saf­fron (red stig­mas plus large amount of yel­low style, pre­sented in a tiny bun­dle like a minia­ture wheat­sheaf) and “konge” (yel­low style only, claimed to have aroma but with very lit­tle, if any, colour­ing po­ten­tial). Grades of Span­ish saf­fron are “coupé” (the strongest grade, like Iran­ian sar­gol), “man­cha” (like Iran­ian pushal), and in order of fur­ther de­creas­ing strength “rio”, “stan­dard” and “sierra” saf­fron. The word “man­cha” in the Span­ish clas­si­fi­ca­tion can have two mean­ings: a gen­eral grade of saf­fron or a very high qual­ity Span­ish-grown saf­fron from a spe­cific ge­o­graph­i­cal ori­gin. Real Span­ish-grown La Man­cha saf­fron has PDO pro­tected sta­tus and this is dis­played on the prod­uct pack­ag­ing. Span­ish grow­ers fought hard for Pro­tected Sta­tus be­cause they felt that im­ports of Iran­ian saf­fron re-pack­aged in Spain and sold as “Span­ish Man­cha saf­fron” were un­der­min­ing the gen­uine La Man­cha brand. Sim­i­lar was the case in Kash­mir where im­ported Iran­ian saf­fron is mixed with local saf­fron and sold as “Kash­mir brand” at a higher price. In Kash­mir, saf­fron is mostly clas­si­fied into two main cat­e­gories called “mon­gra” (stigma alone) and “lachha” (stig­mas at­tached with parts of the style). Coun­tries pro­duc­ing less saf­fron do not have spe­cialised words for dif­fer­ent grades and may only pro­duce one grade. Ar­ti­san pro­duc­ers in Eu­rope and New Zealand have off­set their higher labour charges for saf­fron har­vest­ing by tar­get­ing qual­ity, only of­fer­ing ex­tremely high-grade saf­fron.

In ad­di­tion to de­scrip­tions based on how the saf­fron is picked, saf­fron may be cat­e­gorised under the in­ter­na­tional stan­dard ISO 3632 after lab­o­ra­tory mea­sure­ment of crocin (re­spon­si­ble for saf­fron’s colour), pi­cro­crocin (taste), and safranal (fra­grance or aroma) content. How­ever, often there is no clear grad­ing in­for­ma­tion on the prod­uct pack­ag­ing and lit­tle of the saf­fron read­ily avail­able in the UK is la­belled with ISO cat­e­gory. This lack of in­for­ma­tion makes it hard for cus­tomers to make in­formed choices when com­par­ing prices and buy­ing saf­fron.

Under ISO 3632, de­ter­mi­na­tion of non-stigma con­tent (“flo­ral waste con­tent”) and other ex­tra­ne­ous mat­ter such as in­or­ganic ma­te­r­ial (“ash“) are also key. Grad­ing stan­dards are set by the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Stan­dard­iza­tion, a fed­er­a­tion of na­tional stan­dards bod­ies. ISO 3632 deals ex­clu­sively with saf­fron and es­tab­lishes three cat­e­gories: III (poor­est qual­ity), II, and I (finest qual­ity). For­merly there was also cat­e­gory IV, which was below cat­e­gory III. Sam­ples are as­signed cat­e­gories by gaug­ing the spice’s crocin and pi­cro­crocin con­tent, re­vealed by mea­sure­ments of spe­cific spec­tropho­to­met­ric ab­sorbance. Safranal is treated slightly dif­fer­ently and rather than there being thresh­old lev­els for each cat­e­gory, sam­ples must give a read­ing of 20–50 for all cat­e­gories.

These data are mea­sured through spec­tropho­tom­e­try re­ports at cer­ti­fied test­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries world­wide. Higher ab­sorbances imply greater lev­els of crocin, pi­cro­crocin and safranal, and thus a greater colour­ing po­ten­tial and there­fore strength per gram. The ab­sorbance read­ing of crocin is known as the “colour­ing strength” of that saf­fron. Saf­fron’s colour­ing strength can range from lower than 80 (for all cat­e­gory IV saf­fron) up to 200 or greater (for cat­e­gory I). The world’s finest sam­ples (the se­lected, most red-ma­roon, tips of stig­mas picked from the finest flow­ers) re­ceive colour­ing strengths in ex­cess of 250, mak­ing such saf­fron over three times more pow­er­ful than cat­e­gory IV saf­fron. Mar­ket prices for saf­fron types fol­low di­rectly from these ISO cat­e­gories. Sar­gol and coupé saf­fron would typ­i­cally fall into ISO 3632 cat­e­gory I. Pushal and Man­cha would prob­a­bly be as­signed to cat­e­gory II. On many saf­fron pack­ag­ing la­bels, nei­ther the ISO 3632 cat­e­gory nor the colour­ing strength (the mea­sure­ment of crocin con­tent) is dis­played.

How­ever, many grow­ers, traders, and con­sumers re­ject such lab test num­bers. Some peo­ple pre­fer a more holis­tic method of sam­pling batches of threads for taste, aroma, pli­a­bil­ity, and other traits in a fash­ion sim­i­lar to that prac­tised by ex­pe­ri­enced wine tasters. How­ever, ISO 3632 grade and colour­ing strength in­for­ma­tion allow con­sumers to make in­stant com­par­isons be­tween the qual­ity of dif­fer­ent saf­fron brands, with­out need­ing to pur­chase and sam­ple the saf­fron. In par­tic­u­lar, con­sumers can work out a value for money based on price per unit of colour­ing strength rather than price per gram, given the wide pos­si­ble range of colour­ing strengths that dif­fer­ent kinds of saf­fron can have.

Adulteration
saffron-properties-zafaranic

saffron

De­spite at­tempts at qual­ity con­trol and stan­dard­i­s­a­tion, an ex­ten­sive his­tory of saf­fron adul­ter­ation, par­tic­u­larly among the cheap­est grades, con­tin­ues into mod­ern times. Adul­ter­ation was first doc­u­mented in Eu­rope’s Mid­dle Ages, when those found sell­ing adul­ter­ated saf­fron were ex­e­cuted under the Safran­schou code. Typ­i­cal meth­ods in­clude mix­ing in ex­tra­ne­ous sub­stances like beet­rootpome­gran­ate fi­bres, red-dyed silk fi­bres, or the saf­fron cro­cus’s taste­less and odour­less yel­low sta­mens. Other meth­ods in­cluded dous­ing saf­fron fi­bres with vis­cid sub­stances like honey or veg­etable oil to in­crease their weight. Pow­dered saf­fron is more prone to adul­ter­ation, with turmericpa­prika, and other pow­ders used as di­lut­ing fillers. Adul­ter­ation can also con­sist of sell­ing mis­la­belled mixes of dif­fer­ent saf­fron grades. Thus, high-grade Kash­miri saf­fron is often sold and mixed with cheaper Iran­ian im­ports; these mixes are then mar­keted as pure Kash­miri saf­fron, a de­vel­op­ment that has cost Kash­miri grow­ers much of their income. Saf­flower is a com­mon sub­sti­tute some­times sold as saf­fron. The spice is re­port­edly coun­ter­feited with horse haircorn silk, or shred­ded paper. Tar­trazine or sun­set yel­low have been used to colour coun­ter­feit pow­dered saffron.

In re­cent years, saf­fron adul­ter­ated with the colour­ing ex­tract of gar­de­nia fruits has been de­tected in the Eu­ro­pean mar­ket. This form of fraud is dif­fi­cult to de­tect due to the pres­ence of flavonoids and crocines in the gar­de­nia-ex­tracts sim­i­lar to those nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring in saf­fron. De­tec­tion meth­ods have been de­vel­oped by using HPLC and mass spec­trom­e­try to de­ter­mine the pres­ence of geni­po­side, a com­pound pre­sent in the fruits of gar­de­nia, but not in saffron.

Types

The var­i­ous saf­fron cro­cus cul­ti­vars give rise to thread types that are often re­gion­ally dis­trib­uted and char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally dis­tinct. Va­ri­eties (not va­ri­eties in the botan­i­cal sense) from Spain, in­clud­ing the trade­names “Span­ish Su­pe­rior” and “Creme”, are gen­er­ally mel­lower in colour, flavour, and aroma; they are graded by gov­ern­ment-im­posed stan­dards. Ital­ian va­ri­eties are slightly more po­tent than Span­ish. Greek saf­fron pro­duced in the town of Krokos is PDO pro­tected due to its par­tic­u­larly high-qual­ity colour and strong flavour. Var­i­ous “bou­tique” crops are avail­able from New Zealand, France, Switzer­land, Eng­land, the United States, and other coun­tries—some of them or­gan­i­cally grown. In the US, Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch saf­fron—known for its “earthy” notes—is mar­keted in small quantities.

Con­sumers may re­gard cer­tain cul­ti­vars as “pre­mium” qual­ity. The “Aquila” saf­fron, or zaf­fer­ano dell’Aquila, is de­fined by high safranal and crocin con­tent, dis­tinc­tive thread shape, un­usu­ally pun­gent aroma, and in­tense colour; it is grown ex­clu­sively on eight hectares in the Navelli Val­ley of Italy’s Abruzzo re­gion, near L’Aquila. It was first in­tro­duced to Italy by a Do­mini­can friar from in­qui­si­tion-era Spain. But the biggest saf­fron cul­ti­va­tion in Italy is in San Gavino Mon­reale, Sar­dinia, where it is grown on 40 hectares, rep­re­sent­ing 60% of Ital­ian pro­duc­tion; it too has un­usu­ally high crocin, pi­cro­crocin, and safranal con­tent.

An­other is the “Mon­gra” or “Lacha” saf­fron of Kash­mir (Cro­cus sativus ‘Cash­miri­anus’), which is among the most dif­fi­cult for con­sumers to obtain. Re­peated droughts, blights, and crop fail­ures in Kash­mir com­bined with an In­dian ex­port ban, con­tribute to its pro­hib­i­tive over­seas prices. Kash­miri saf­fron is rec­og­niz­able by its dark ma­roon-pur­ple hue, mak­ing it among the world’s darkest. In 2020, Kash­mir Val­ley saf­fron was cer­ti­fied with a ge­o­graph­i­cal in­di­ca­tion from the Gov­ern­ment of India.

Production
Saffron market, Iran

Saffron market, Iran

Al­most all saf­fron grows in a belt from Spain in the west to Kash­mir in the east. In 2014, 250 t (250,000 kg) were pro­duced worldwide. Iran is re­spon­si­ble for 90–93% of global pro­duc­tion, with much of their pro­duce exported.

In the 21st cen­tury, cul­ti­va­tion in Greece and Afghanistan in­creased. Mo­rocco and India were minor producers. In Italy, saf­fron is pro­duced pri­mar­ily in South­ern Italy, es­pe­cially in the Abruzzo re­gion, but it is also grown in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers in Basil­i­cataSardegna, and Tus­cany (es­pe­cially in San Gimignano). Pro­hib­i­tively high labour costs and abun­dant Iran­ian im­ports mean that only se­lect lo­cales con­tinue the te­dious har­vest in Aus­tria, Ger­many, and Switzer­land—among them the Swiss vil­lage of Mund, whose an­nual out­put is a few kilograms. Mi­croscale pro­duc­tion of saf­fron can be found in Aus­tralia (mainly the state of Tasmania), Canada, Cen­tral Africa, China, Egypt, parts of England France, Is­rael, Mex­ico, New Zealand, Swe­den (Got­land), Turkey (mainly around the town of Safran­bolu), the United States (Cal­i­for­nia and Pennsylvania). Greece is a saf­fron pro­ducer with a his­tory of 3 cen­turies of cul­ti­va­tion of a saf­fron called Krokos Kozanis, hav­ing started ex­ports to the United States in 2017.

Trade

Main article: Saffron (trade)

Saf­fron prices at whole­sale and re­tail rates range from US$500 to US$5,000 per pound, or US$1,100–11,000/kg. In West­ern coun­tries, the av­er­age re­tail price in 1974 was $1,000 per pound, or US$2,200 per kilogram. In Feb­ru­ary 2013, a re­tail bot­tle con­tain­ing 0.06 ounces (1.7 g) could be pur­chased for $16.26 or the equiv­a­lent of $4,336 per pound or as lit­tle as about $2,000/pound in larger quan­ti­ties. A pound con­tains be­tween 70,000 and 200,000 threads. Vivid crim­son colour­ing, slight moist­ness, elas­tic­ity, and lack of bro­ken-off thread de­bris are all traits of fresh saf­fron.

Uses
Saffron threads soaked in hot water prior to use in food preparation

Saffron threads soaked in hot water prior to use in food preparationMain article: Saffron (use)

Nutritional value per 1 tbsp (2.1 g)
Energy27 kJ (6.5 kcal)
Carbohydrates1.37 g
Dietary fibre0.10 g
Fat0.12 g
Saturated0.03 g
Trans0.00 g
Monounsaturated0.01 g
Polyunsaturated0.04 g
Protein0.24 g
VitaminsQuantity%DV
Vitamin A11 IU
Thiamine (B1)0%0 mg
Riboflavin (B2)1%0.01 mg
Niacin (B3)0%0.03 mg
Vitamin B62%0.02 mg
Folate (B9)1%2 μg
Vitamin B120%0 μg
Vitamin C2%1.7 mg
Vitamin D0%0 μg
Vitamin D0%0 IU
MineralsQuantity%DV
Calcium0%2 mg
Copper1%0.01 mg
Iron2%0.23 mg
Magnesium2%6 mg
Manganese29%0.6 mg
Phosphorus1%5 mg
Potassium1%36 mg
Selenium0%0.1 μg
Sodium0%3 mg
Zinc0%0.02 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water0.25 g
Full Link to USDA database entry
Unitsμg = micrograms • mg = milligramsIU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Saf­fron’s aroma is often de­scribed by con­nois­seurs as rem­i­nis­cent of metal­lic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. Saf­fron also con­tributes a lu­mi­nous yel­low-or­ange colour­ing to foods. Saf­fron is widely used in Persian, In­dian, Eu­ro­pean, and Arab cuisines. Con­fec­tioner­ies and liquors also often in­clude saf­fron. Saf­fron is used in dishes rang­ing from the jew­elled rice and khoresh of Iran, the Mi­lanese risotto of Italy, the paella of Spain, the bouil­l­abaisse of France, to the biryani with var­i­ous meat ac­com­pa­ni­ments in South Asia. One of the most es­teemed use for saf­fron is in the prepa­ra­tion of the Golden Ham, a pre­cious dry-cured ham made with saf­fron from San Gimignano. Com­mon saf­fron sub­sti­tutes in­clude saf­flower (Carthamus tinctorius, which is often sold as “Por­tuguese saf­fron” or “açafrão”), an­natto, and turmeric (Cur­cuma longa).

Saf­fron has a long his­tory of use in tra­di­tional med­i­cine. Saf­fron has also been used as a fab­ric dye, par­tic­u­larly in China and India, and in perfumery. It is used for re­li­gious pur­poses in India.

Nutrition

Dried saf­fron is 65% car­bo­hy­drates, 6% fat, 11% pro­tein (table) and 12% water. In one ta­ble­spoon (2 grams; a quan­tity much larger than is likely to be in­gested in nor­mal use) man­ganese is pre­sent as 29% of the Daily Value, while other mi­cronu­tri­ents have neg­li­gi­ble con­tent (table).

Research

Genes and tran­scrip­tion fac­tors in­volved in the path­way for carotenoid syn­the­sis re­spon­si­ble for the colour, flavour and aroma of saf­fron were under study in 2017.

Saf­fron con­stituents, such as crocincro­cetin, and safranal, were under pre­lim­i­nary re­search for their po­ten­tial to af­fect men­tal de­pres­sion.

History

Main article: History of saffron

A detail from the "Saffron Gatherers" fresco of the "Xeste 3" building. It is one of many depicting saffron; they were found at the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, on the Aegean island of Santorini.

A detail from the “Saffron Gatherers” fresco of the “Xeste 3” building. It is one of many depicting saffron; they were found at the Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, on the Aegean island of Santorini.

Some doubts re­main on the ori­gin of saffron, but it is be­lieved that saf­fron orig­i­nated in Iran. How­ever, Greece and Mesopotamia have also been sug­gested as the pos­si­ble re­gion of ori­gin of this plant. C. sativus is pos­si­bly a triploid form of Cro­cus cartwrigh­t­ianus. Saf­fron cro­cus slowly prop­a­gated through­out much of Eura­sia and was later brought to parts of North AfricaNorth Amer­ica, and Ocea­nia.

West Asia

Saf­fron was de­tailed in a 7th-cen­tury BC As­syr­ian botan­i­cal ref­er­ence com­piled under Ashur­ba­n­i­pal. Doc­u­men­ta­tion of saf­fron’s use over the span of 3,500 years has been uncovered. Saf­fron-based pig­ments have in­deed been found in 50,000-year-old de­pic­tions of pre­his­toric places in north­west Iran. The Sume­ri­ans later used wild-grow­ing saf­fron in their reme­dies and mag­i­cal potions. Saf­fron was an ar­ti­cle of long-dis­tance trade be­fore the Mi­noan palace cul­ture’s 2nd mil­len­nium BC peak. An­cient Per­sians cul­ti­vated Per­sian saf­fron (Cro­cus sativus ‘Hausknechtii’) in Der­bentIs­fa­han, and Kho­rasan by the 10th cen­tury BC. At such sites, saf­fron threads were woven into textiles, rit­u­ally of­fered to di­vini­ties, and used in dyes, per­fumes, med­i­cines, and body washes. Saf­fron threads would thus be scat­tered across beds and mixed into hot teas as a cu­ra­tive for bouts of melan­choly. Non-Per­sians also feared the Per­sians’ usage of saf­fron as a drug­ging agent and aphrodisiac. Dur­ing his Asian cam­paigns, Alexan­der the Great used Per­sian saf­fron in his in­fu­sions, rice, and baths as a cu­ra­tive for bat­tle wounds. Alexan­der’s troops im­i­tated the prac­tice from the Per­sians and brought saf­fron-bathing to Greece.

South Asia
Buddhist adepts wearing saffron-coloured robes, pray in the Hundred Dragons Hall, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Singapore.

Buddhist adepts wearing saffron-coloured robes, pray in the Hundred Dragons Hall, Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Singapore.

Con­flict­ing the­o­ries ex­plain saf­fron’s ar­rival in South Asia. Kash­miri and Chi­nese ac­counts date its ar­rival any­where be­tween 2500 and 900 years ago. His­to­ri­ans study­ing an­cient Per­sian records date the ar­rival to some­time prior to 500 BC, at­tribut­ing it to a Per­sian trans­plan­ta­tion of saf­fron corms to stock new gar­dens and parks. Phoeni­cians then mar­keted Kash­miri saf­fron as a dye and a treat­ment for melan­choly. Its use in foods and dyes sub­se­quently spread through­out South Asia. Bud­dhist monks wear saf­fron-coloured robes; how­ever, the robes are not dyed with costly saf­fron but turmeric, a less ex­pen­sive dye, or jack­fruit. Monks’ robes are dyed the same colour to show equal­ity with each other, and turmeric or ochre were the cheap­est, most read­ily avail­able dyes. Gam­boge is now used to dye the robes.

East Asia

Some his­to­ri­ans be­lieve that saf­fron came to China with Mon­gol in­vaders from Persia. Yet saf­fron is men­tioned in an­cient Chi­nese med­ical texts, in­clud­ing the forty-vol­ume Shen­nong Ben­cao­jing, a phar­ma­copoeia writ­ten around 300–200 BC. Tra­di­tion­ally cred­ited to the leg­endary Yan Em­peror and the deity Shen­nong, it dis­cusses 252 plant-based med­ical treat­ments for var­i­ous disorders. Nev­er­the­less, around the 3rd cen­tury AD, the Chi­nese were re­fer­ring to saf­fron as hav­ing a Kash­miri prove­nance. Ac­cord­ing to the herbal­ist Wan Zhen, “the habi­tat of saf­fron is in Kash­mir, where peo­ple grow it prin­ci­pally to offer it to the Bud­dha.” Wan also re­flected on how it was used in his time: “The flower with­ers after a few days, and then the saf­fron is ob­tained. It is val­ued for its uni­form yel­low colour. It can be used to aro­ma­tise wine.”

South East Mediterranean

The Mi­noans por­trayed saf­fron in their palace fres­coes by 1600–1500 BC; they hint at its pos­si­ble use as a ther­a­peu­tic drug. An­cient Greek leg­ends told of sea voy­ages to Cili­cia, where ad­ven­tur­ers sought what they be­lieved were the world’s most valu­able threads. An­other leg­end tells of Cro­cus and Smi­lax, whereby Cro­cus is be­witched and trans­formed into the first saf­fron crocus. An­cient per­fumers in Egypt, physi­cians in Gaza, towns­peo­ple in Rhodes, and the Greek het­aerae cour­te­sans used saf­fron in their scented wa­ters, per­fumes and pot­pour­ris, mas­caras and oint­ments, di­vine of­fer­ings, and med­ical treatments.

In late Ptole­maic EgyptCleopa­tra used saf­fron in her baths so that love­mak­ing would be more pleasurable. Egypt­ian heal­ers used saf­fron as a treat­ment for all va­ri­eties of gas­troin­testi­nal ailments. Saf­fron was also used as a fab­ric dye in such Lev­an­tine cities as Sidon and Tyre in LebanonAulus Cor­nelius Cel­sus pre­scribes saf­fron in med­i­cines for wounds, cough, colic, and sca­bies, and in the mithri­datium.

Western Europe
Preserved "Safran", Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Karlsruhe, Germany

Preserved “Safran”, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Karlsruhe, Germany

Saf­fron was a no­table in­gre­di­ent in cer­tain Roman recipes such as jus­selle and con­di­tum. Such was the Ro­mans’ love of saf­fron that Roman colonists took it with them when they set­tled in south­ern Gaul, where it was ex­ten­sively cul­ti­vated until Rome’s fall. With this fall, Eu­ro­pean saf­fron cul­ti­va­tion plum­meted. Com­pet­ing the­o­ries state that saf­fron only re­turned to France with 8th-cen­tury AD Moors or with the Avi­gnon pa­pacy in the 14th cen­tury AD. Sim­i­larly, the spread of Is­lamic civil­i­sa­tion may have helped rein­tro­duce the crop to Spain and Italy.

The 14th-cen­tury Black Death caused de­mand for saf­fron-based medica­ments to peak, and Eu­rope im­ported large quan­ti­ties of threads via Venet­ian and Genoan ships from south­ern and Mediter­ranean lands such as Rhodes. The theft of one such ship­ment by no­ble­men sparked the four­teen-week-long Saf­fron War. The con­flict and re­sult­ing fear of ram­pant saf­fron piracy spurred corm cul­ti­va­tion in Basel; it thereby grew prosperous. The crop then spread to Nurem­berg, where en­demic and in­salu­bri­ous adul­ter­ation brought on the Safran­schou code—whereby cul­prits were var­i­ously fined, im­pris­oned, and executed. Mean­while, cul­ti­va­tion con­tin­ued in south­ern France, Italy, and Spain.

The Essex town of Saf­fron Walden, named for its new spe­cialty crop, emerged as a prime saf­fron grow­ing and trad­ing cen­tre in the 16th and 17th cen­turies but cul­ti­va­tion there was aban­doned; saf­fron was re-in­tro­duced around 2013 as well as other parts of the UK (Cheshire).

The Americas

Eu­ro­peans in­tro­duced saf­fron to the Amer­i­cas when im­mi­grant mem­bers of the Schwenk­felder Church left Eu­rope with a trunk con­tain­ing its corms. Church mem­bers had grown it widely in Europe. By 1730, the Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch cul­ti­vated saf­fron through­out east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia. Span­ish colonies in the Caribbean bought large amounts of this new Amer­i­can saf­fron, and high de­mand en­sured that saf­fron’s list price on the Philadel­phia com­modi­ties ex­change was equal to gold. Trade with the Caribbean later col­lapsed in the af­ter­math of the War of 1812, when many saf­fron-bear­ing mer­chant ves­sels were destroyed. Yet the Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch con­tin­ued to grow lesser amounts of saf­fron for local trade and use in their cakes, noo­dles, and chicken or trout dishes. Amer­i­can saf­fron cul­ti­va­tion sur­vives into mod­ern times, mainly in Lan­caster County, Penn­syl­va­nia

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