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Saffron
shopping: two varieties
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per gram
Quantity:  
$9.00 
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Each
Quantity:  
$140.00 
Crocus sativus

saffron

plant overview
the golden spice

Saffron is a spice made from the red-gold stigma filaments or “threads” of an autumn-flowering species of crocus. Its name is thought to be a corruption of the Arab word zafaran, which means “spice” and is sometimes also used to refer to the color yellow. Although the saffron crocus has been cultivated for centuries in the Mediterranean region, it was once reserved for kings and pharaohs. Saffron is still the most expensive spice because it is the most costly to produce. Since each flower only has three stigmas, it takes a lot of plants to produce even a small amount of spice. Fortunately, a pinch of saffron goes a very long way in terms of flavor and color.

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.
Saffron
01.
A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on saffron

description
The spice saffron is derived from the flower (specifically the stigmas and styles) of Crocus sativus. Crocus sativus is commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae.

Saffron crocus grows to a height of 8 to 12 inches (20–30 cm). To protect the plants true leaves it will sprout white and non-photosynthetic leaves known as cataphylls. These are membrane-like structures cover the crocus's 5-11 actual leaves as they bud and develop. The actual leaves are blade-like green foliage and are thin, straight, and approximately 1–3 mm in diameter.

In autumn, purple buds appear and it takes until October, after most other flowering plants have released their seeds, for the crocus' brilliantly hued flowers develop. When they do flower the plants average less than a foot in height. At this time their color will range from a light pastel shade of lilac to a darker and more striated mauve. The flowers emit a honey-like sweet fragrance. Emerging from each flower is a three-pronged style. Each of these prongs is terminated with a vivid crimson stigma 25–30 mm (0.98–1.18 in) in length.

The plant reproduces via corms. Corms are bulb-like, starch-storing organs, that form underground. After blossoms fade they are dug up, separated, and replanted each year.

common names & nomenclature
The English word, saffron stemmed from a 12th-century Old French term safran, which comes from the Latin word safranum, which comes from the Persian intercessor za'ferân.

Also known as:
saffron, saffron crocus


02.
Where in the World
habitat and range for saffron

Crocus sativus is native to Greece or Southwest Asia and was slowly propagated throughout much of Eurasia and was later brought to parts of North Africa, North America, and Oceania.

03.
Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting saffron crocus

climate
Saffron grows best in sunny, semi-arid lands. It can survive cold winters, tolerating frosts as low as −10 °C (14 °F) and can even endure short periods of snow cover. Irrigation is required if grown outside of moist environments.

soil
Prefers friable, low-density, loose, well-watered, and well-drained clay soils with high organic content.

growing
Since they are actually sterile, C. sativus' purple flowers will not produce viable seeds. The plant's reproduction requires on human assistance via the replanting of the plant's corms. Corms are underground, bulb-like, starch-storing organs—and they must must be dug up, broken apart, and replanted for next season. A corm will survive for one season, though it will produce via this vegetative division up to ten "cormlets" that can be planted and will grow into new plants in the next season.

harvesting
The stigmas and styles of the flower are harvested in the autumn when the plant is in flower and are dried for later use.

preserving
Store saffron in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Be aware it should be used as quickly as possible, the spice does not store well. It should be used (or replaced) within 12 months.

04.
The Rest of the Story
saffron history, folklore, history & more

Saffron grows from a bulb called a corm. It's a perennial, showy ornamental that rarely grows taller than 18 inches. Saffron has no true stem. What appears to be the stem is actually the tubular portion of the flower envelope (corolla), which is surrounded by leaves resembling blades of grass.

Plant corms in the fall or spring, 3 inches deep with the root side down in light, well-drained soil under full sun. Allow 6 inches between plants. The flowers bloom briefly in late summer or early fall. Carefully collect the three-pronged stigmas and allow them to dry.

Saffron is the yellow-gold spice that for centuries was literally worth its weight in gold.

The Arabs introduced saffron into Spain around the 8th century, and that country has been a major exporter ever since. Saffron's violet, lilylike flowers contain three yellow-orange stigmas, the part with economic value. Used as a dye, spice, and perfume, saffron stigmas have been in great demand since ancient times. It takes about 75,000 flowers to yield 1 pound of saffron. You don't have to be an economist to understand why this herb has always been so expensive.

Because of its value, saffron has a long history of adulteration. The adulteration of choice has always been safflower, also a source of yellow-red dyes and variously known as fake saffron, dyer's saffron, and bastard saffron.

Saffron was a favorite of the ancient Egyptians. The nobility wore robes dyed with saffron, anointed themselves with saffron perfumes, ate foods spiced with the herb.

Despite its cultivation in Moorish Spain, saffron was rare in Northern Europe until after the Crusades. But by the 14th century, it had become so popular as a dye, spice, and perfume that the spice merchants throughout the continent were known as saffron grocers.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
you should always consult with your doctor
before making any changes to your diet!!
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