¿WHAT'S SAFFRON?

The ancient spice


SAFFRON IS

It consists of the stigmas, by themselves or together with the styles, of the flowers of Crocus Sativus Linnaeus, whether we refer to the whole filaments or we have them mashed or ground.


HOW TO USE SAFFRON IN COOKING

Saffron threads or filaments
Place dry saffron within a mortar in order to mash it together with the other spices. Add to the food but save 5 / 6 threads for a brighter and more colorful presentation of the dish later on.
Ground saffron
Dissolve ground saffron in some liquid and add to the food while cooking it.
Recommended amounts
A sachet with 0,125 gr. / 0.004oz of ground saffron or about 15 threads serve 4 to 6 people.


MEDICAL SAFFRON USAGES

  • In homeopathy it is used as an expectorant, to fight cough; as an appetite stimulant, as a sedative or as a tea in order to fight the aches or symptoms when teething.
  • It is used in Ayurdevic medicine as part of the herbal formulae.
  • It is antidepressant.
  • It relieves discomfort associated to the menstrual cycle.
  • It works as an aphrodisiac to help fight impotence.
  • Prolong the vitality.
  • It is a stimulant and it helps digestion and the functions of stomach in general.
  • It soothes the pain of dentition among children.
  • It alleviates insomnia and inebriation.


HIS MEDICAL USAGE

MUST ALWAYS BE LOOKED OVER BY A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. PLEASE DO NOT SELF MEDICATE.


PARFUMS

Saffron is used in the perfume industry as an ingredient of quite a few well-known perfumes. In the Middle East saffron is used in the preparation of an essential oil named Aafran Attar, a mixture of saffron and sandalwood.

RELIGION

When Hindi women carry out their prayers they receive saffron as a blessing, a symbol of good luck and good will. All over India saffron is often used as an offering in many worship places. We know that some ancient sacred texts were written with a saffron-based ink. Saffron has always been highly appreciated as a present in worldwide celebrations including India’s New Year, Diwali (Festival of Lights), the Onam Festival or even Christmas.

COLORS

Buddhist monks use saffron to dye their robes. In India brides often use it as make-up for the wedding ceremony. In Japan it is used to hand paint kimonos.

FOOD INDUSTRY

Saffron is used in many kinds of different dishes: soups, masala spice mixtures, ice cream, spirits or milk kesari.


SAFFRON PRODUCTION PROCESS

High quality
  • GATHERING33%
The gathering of saffron is carried out when the plant blooms, which takes place between the months of October and November. This task can only be carried out by hand, from the early hours of the morning and until midday, preferably before the flowers open. Once the crop has been taken to the harvesters’ dwellings or warehouses, it is spread on esparto carpets or canvas, ready for the next stage in its elaboration.

  • “DESBRIZNE” OR PEELING THE ROSE66%
This task consists of separating by hand the red stigma from the rest of the flower, cutting by the style. Good quality saffron should have a style long enough to join the three stigmas, but at the same time it mustn’t be too big when considering the proportions of the whole flower. The different standard qualities depend on the amount of red and yellow parts. The red filaments are one piece of evidence of the good quality. The bigger amount of red filaments, the more active principles the saffron will have.

  • ROASTING THE THREADS100%

This may be considered the most important stage of all. It consists of drying or roasting the threads that have been separated when peeling the rose.

The most experienced and patient person is the one who usually carries out this task. Earthenware bowls or dishes are placed on a fireplace with embers and ash, which provide a continuous but not too intense source of heat. Sieves with thin layers of saffron threads are placed on the earthenware dishes. This way all the threads and filaments harvested during the day are slightly “roasted” or dried.

All these tasks will be carried out day in day out until all the roses in the field have been gathered. An estimate of 170,000 roses are needed in order to obtain a kg. of saffron.

Nowadays the different levels of quality of saffron are internationally graduated by the ISO-3632-1 regulations