(Crocus sativus L.)
Plant family: Iridaceae (iris family)
Saffron originates from West Asia most likely Persia and
Today, Spain and Iran are the largest producers, accounting together
for more than 80% of the world's production, which is approximately
300 tons per year.
Used plant part: Stigma, also called style (central part of a
flower, female sexual organ).
Approximately 150.000 flowers are needed for one kilogram of dried
saffron. Less expensive qualities include also the yellow stamina
(male sexual organ), which do not have any taste of their own.
Sensoric quality: Very intensively fragrant, slightly bitter in
taste. By soaking saffron in warm water, one gets a bright
It adds not only pungent and aromatic flavour to foods, but also a
beautiful golden yellow colour.
Saffron exists on the market in powdered form or as threads. Like
most all spices and herbs, “whole” is more powerful than “ground”.
Whole saffron is required to be prepared before use, sometimes
soaked, sometimes toasted and ground. Ground saffron can also be
used in small amounts but one has to be careful while purchasing due
to adulteration, most often with turmeric. Saffron can be toxic when
used in large amounts.
Saffron is used for several Mediterranean dishes, often in
connection with fish and seafood.
In the food industry it is used as a colourant in sausages,
margarine, butter, cheese, ice-cream, desserts, alcoholic and