About the saffron spice
Saffron threads have been used for centuries as a food seasoning. They’re also sometimes used to make dyes, fragrances, and herbal medicines. Saffron has a flavor profile that is warm, earthy, slightly bitter with hints of honey, and a floral aroma.
The saffron flower
Crocus sativus, also called saffron crocus or autumn crocus, is a flowering plant known for producing the saffron spice from stigmas that grow inside the flower. The saffron crocus is a cormous plant that grows to be about 1ft tall and blooms with purple flowers in autumn.
Saffron is considered to be a domesticated plant with few related species growing in the wild. Most high quality saffron is cultivated in either Iran, Kashmir, or Spain.
History of saffron
The origin of saffron is not 100% clear, but historians have narrowed it to either Asia Minor (Turkey) or ancient Persia (Iran). Saffron pigments have been found in cave art that dates back 50,000 years in an area of modern day Iraq. There are also accounts of saffron’s place in the ancient cultures of Persia, Asia, Egypt, as well as in Greco-Roman times.
Alexander the Great was known to have saffron added to his baths, believing it helped to heal his battle wounds. Cleopatra and other Pharaohs used it as a seductive fragrance.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, saffron cultivation basically halted in Europe. Several centuries later, the Moors came from North Africa, bringing saffron with them and planting it throughout the southern provinces of Andalusia, Castile, La Mancha, and Valencia — and Spanish saffron was born.