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About Saffron

About Saffron

What is saffron?

Saffron is the carefully dried stigmas of crocus sativus flowers, a small perennial plant about a foot tall. Each crocus has three female parts (stigmas), two male parts (stamen). Each stigma is threadlike in appearance and is red or dark red in color towards the top and yellow towards the bottom of the stigma, where it is attached to the flower. Saffron has a bitter flavor and a pungent odor. The flavor, aroma, and coloring capability come from the red part of the stigma. The yellow part has no value as a spice. We counted enough unbroken threads of our Kashmiri saffron until its weight reached one gram. There were 500+ threads of Kashmiri saffron in one gram. Since three threads represent one flower, It would take on average about 200+ flowers to produce one gram of saffron. Keep in mind that Kashmiri saffron threads are larger than other non-Kashmiri saffron threads.

What are the uses of saffron?

Saffron has been used as spice and coloring agent for many centuries and has numerous medicinal properties. 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 being used in some regions of the world such as India. It has been written that around 600 B.C. Phoenicians were looking for a mysterious plant in Kashmir, one whose flower had silky stigmas with a pungent aroma. The stigmas were thought to cure many illnesses and also had the capability of making strong dye. 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. 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.

What is pure saffron?

Saffron is known to be the world's most expensive spice. Throughout history, dishonest dealers would adulterate their saffron by adding similar materials for added weight or by dyeing the lower quality saffron strands red, which is the sign of good quality saffron. Lately, there are reports that cough syrups have been found in some saffron and that a synthetic stigma is too difficult to be distinguished from the real stigma being produced and sold at lower prices. Pure saffron contains only the stigma of the Crocus flower with nothing else added. Pure saffron strands composed of red and yellow portions of the stigma are less potent than the pure saffron composed entirely of the red portions of the stigma. On the other hand saffron strands composed of red and yellow portions of the stigma shows that it is not dyed, since it is not cost efficient to dye saffron strands partially red. The most important rule in buying saffron is to find a source that you can trust. The saffron we sell on this site is procured by highly trusted suppliers that are well known world wide for their quality for many decades.

What are the signs of good quality saffron?

Good quality saffron is a saffron which has a decent coloring capabilities and has a pleasant aroma. Saffron's coloring capabilities come from the red portion of the saffron strands and not the yellow portions that is left uncut in lower grade saffron. Therefore a good quality saffron is a saffron that is all red. This criteria is necessary but not sufficient. For example, an all red saffron that is 10 years old is not a good quality saffron. The next criteria is aroma. Old saffron looses its pungent aroma and sometimes it has no aroma at all. So, a good quality saffron is saffron that is completely red and has a nice aroma. Please note that this does not mean that any pure saffron strands with some yellow in it is not decent saffron. It is just not as potent as saffron that is completely red. In fact, some people prefer saffron with yellow in it and to them it is not saffron if the stigma does not have any yellow.

What region of the world has the best saffron?

Ask this question from a chef in Spain, he will tell you that Spanish saffron is the best in the world. Ask the same question from an Iranian chef, he will assure you that Iranian saffron is the best. An Indian chef will tell you that Kashmiri saffron is the best. Who is telling the truth? The fact is that they are all telling you what they believe. If you grew up with one type of saffron, most likely that type of saffron is your preferred brand. In our opinion, all pure saffron is good regardless of its origin. We believe, you as a saffron user, will have to try it for yourself to see which region's saffron fits your taste the best. However, if we were to measure saffron by its potency, then saffron from certain regions of the world is more potent than other types of saffron found throughout the world. For example, Kashmir is blessed with perfect condition for saffron cultivation and it produces the most potent saffron in the world. It is also the most expensive saffron in the world. On this site we offer you three of the most widely used saffron types throughout the globe; Kashmiri, Iranian and Spanish.

What is the best way to store saffron?

Saffron should be stored in an airtight container and kept away from moisture and bright light. Bright light such as sunlight will bleach the color of saffron. That is why when the crocus flower blooms, the flower has to be picked at dawn (Sahar) before the sun shines on it. Also do not expose your saffron to the moisture. Do not open your jar of saffron near a boiling pot of water in the kitchen.

How long can saffron be stored?

Saffron can be stored for several years and will retain most of its potency if stored properly. (See above)

Where can I get more information about saffron?

The information provided above is basic and is intended for casual users.

For more helpful and interesting information on saffron, visit any of the following web sites:

  • 2nd International Symposium on Saffron Biology and Biotechnology
  • 1st. International Symposium on Saffron Biology and Biotechnology
  • A Cure For Cancer?
  • UCLA-Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library
  • SAFFRON-An Anti-Depressant Herb
  • Saffron Uses
  • Therapy & saffron
  • Healing Properties of Saffron-American Botanical Council
  • Saffron For Health
  • Saffron. A Review by John C. Leffingwell, Ph.D.
  • The Dashing Persian Army
  • Researchers Rewrite First Chapter for the History of Medicine
  • Biomedical properties of saffron and its potential use in cancer therapy and chemoprevention trials
  • The Moss Reports: Could saffron, hold as yet untapped benefits in the treatment and prevention of cancer? A growing number of respected scientists believe that yes, it could.

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