Saffron is an expensive spice most commonly used in cooking for its flavor, aroma and coloring properties. It is mostly used in the cuisines of Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The flavor of the spice is often described as sweet with a taste similar to hay. Saffron has been an important spice for many years and humans have been using it for more than 3,500 years. Let’s find out where it comes from.
Where does saffron come from?
The spice is obtained from the flower of the Crocus sativus plant, which is more commonly known as saffron crocus. This small plant grows to about 20 – 30 cm (8-12 in) and has about 4 flowers. The stigmas of these flowers are the spice and these are picked by hand and then dried. This labor intensive process means that saffron is worth somewhere between $1,000 – $11,000 per kilogram, which makes it the most expensive spice in the world.
Where did saffron originate from?
It is thought that the ancestor of the Crocus sativus plant originated in Central Asia. However, Crocus sativus was first cultivated in Greece, probably on the island of Crete.
Where is saffron produced today?
The largest producer of this spice is Iran at about 94% of the world’s supply. The next largest saffron producing countries are Greece and Morocco, followed by the disputed Kashmir region. Smaller amounts are grown in other parts of the world and it is now grown on every continent on Earth, apart from Antarctica.
Did you know?
Saffron is also used as a dye and to add aroma to perfumes and many other cosmetics.
Saffron has long been used in traditional medicine, but recent studies suggest that it may have a number of health benefits such as anti-cancer and antidepressant properties.