Premium quality Persian saffron, to be used mainly as a seasoning and coloring agent in foods and drinks.
Saffron is one of the most precious spices in the world. The threadlike red stigmas—and the yellow hue they impart—are quite literally the stuff of legend. But what is saffron, exactly? No matter how many tales have been told about the spice, a lot of us still don’t know what to do with it or whether it’s worth the high cost. Here’s everything you need to know.
Where does saffron come from?
The spice originates from a flower called crocus sativus—commonly known as the “saffron crocus.” It is believed that saffron originated and was first cultivated in Greece, but today the spice is primarily grown in Iran, Greece, Morocco, and India.
What does it taste like?
Saffron is extremely subtle and fragrant. The slightly sweet, luxurious taste is totally enigmatic—it’s tricky to describe but instantly recognizable in a dish. As annoying as it is to say, you know it when you taste it.
How should I use it?
Grind 2 tsp. saffron threads, along with a sugar cube or a pinch of coarse salt, to a powder with a mortar and pestle or a spice mill to draw out the most flavor and color. Then add ¼ cup warm water and let cool. This is the vibrant elixir to use in your paella, buttery saffron rice, and special occasion desserts like saffron-rose water brittle.
Uses & Effectiveness
- Alzheimer’s disease. Some research shows that taking a specific saffron product (IMPIRAN, Iran) by mouth for 22 weeks might improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease about as well as the prescription drug donepezil (Aricept).
- Depression. Taking specific saffron extracts (Novin Zaferan Co, Iran) by mouth seems to improve symptoms of major depression after 6-8 weeks of treatment. Some studies suggest that saffron might be as effective as taking a low-dose prescription antidepressant such as fluoxetine or imipramine.
- Menstrual discomfort. Some research shows the taking a specific product containing saffron, anise, and celery seed (SCA, Gol Daro Herbal Medicine Laboratory) reduces pain during the menstrual cycle.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some research shows that taking a specific saffron extract (Department of Cultivation and Development of Institute of Medicinal Plants, Iran) improves symptoms of PMS after two menstrual cycles.