Amazing spring flower crocus in mountains in snow. View of magic blooming spring flowers crocus growing in mountains. Big panoramic photo of majestic spring flower crocus in snow

Saffron originates from the Persian word zarparaan meaning “gold strung” is a spice derived from the flower of saffron crocus.

The domesticated saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, is an autumn-flowering perennial plant unknown in the wild. A corm survives for one season, producing via vegetative division up to ten “cormlets” that can grow into new plants in the next season.

Saffron is not all the same quality and strength. Strength is related to several factors including the amount of style picked along with the red stigma. Age of the saffron is also a factor. More style included means the saffron is less strong gram for gram because the colour and flavour are concentrated in the red stigmas. Grades of Iranian saffron are:

·         Sargol (red stigma tips only, strongest grade),

·         Pushal or Pushali (red stigmas plus some yellow style, lower strength),

·         Bunch saffron (red stigmas plus large amount of yellow style, presented in a tiny bundle like a miniature wheatsheaf)

·         Konge (yellow style only, claimed to have aroma but with very little, if any, colouring potential)



The high retail value of saffron is because of labour-intensive harvesting methods, which require some 440,000 hand-picked saffron stigmas per kilogram (200,000 stigmas/lb) – equivalently, 150,000 crocus flowers per kilogram (70,000 flowers/lb). Forty hours of labour are needed to pick 150,000 flowers.

Saffron’s aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods. Saffron is used in dishes ranging from the jewelled, the Milanese risotto of Italy, the paella of Spain, the bouillabaisse of France, to the biryani with various meat accompaniments in South Asia. One of the most esteemed uses for saffron is in the preparation of the Golden Ham, a precious dry-cured ham made with saffron from San Gimignano.


Saffron will not spoil but will lose flavour within six months if not stored in an airtight, cool, dark, place. Freezer storage can maintain flavour for up to two years.