Aromatic Note: Middle to top note
The world’s most costly spice, saffron is the individual stigmas, deep red thread-like fibers, from the flower of this perennial Mediterranean plant.
It takes some 150,000 flowers and 400 hours of labor to produce 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of dried saffron.
Saffron has been prized as a colorant and food flavoring ingredient for at least 4000 years. Following the Crusades in the 11th century, it began being widely cultivated in the Middle East and Europe.
In ancient Arabia saffron was used for ceremonies of birth, weddings and death.
Synonyms: saffron crocus, fan hong hua
Origin: Mediterranean region; now grown mainly in Iran, Spain, Kashmir, Turkey and Azerbaijan
Parts Used: styles (stigmas)
Aroma Description: warm, intensely sweet, sensuous, spicy, floral, slight herbaceous undertone.
Cosmetic Uses: used as a dye for hair, nails, etc.
Culinary Uses: used as a flavoring and colorant for liqueurs, cakes, cookies, puddings, sweetmeats, sauces, fish stews, rice dishes (i.e. Spanish Paella, Italian Risotto Milanese and India’s Biryani), etc.
Medicinal Attributes: pungent, bitter-sweet herb that improves digestion, increases perspiration, stimulates circulation and menstruation, reduces high blood pressure. Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat stagnant liver energy, depression and menstrual disorders.
*Warning: Avoid if pregnant.
Essential Oil: Not commercially available, a tincture can be made using saffron threads soaked in diluted alcohol.