Saffron is a spice derived from the crocus flower, a botanical species that belongs botanically to the iris family.
Saffron originates from the Kashmir region of northern India, and from there it spread to Arab countries and the European continent.
Its name is derived from the Arabic word “Ifer” which means yellow. The spice is sold ground into powder or in its natural form, which is a thin thread appearing in color from orange to brown.
Why is saffron such a precious spice?
Saffron is known for its high price; in fact, it is the most expensive spice we have. On average, one gram of saffron alone costs about five dollars. The astronomical price of the spice was not arbitrarily determined for luxury reasons.
The truth is that the high price is due to the difficulty in producing the saffron spice, which is produced from the crocus flower, which blooms only once a year, and only three stigmas can be found in each flower.
The stigma are harvested manually by hand, not by machine, and to produce half a pound of saffron, the stigmas must be plucked from 35,000 to 100,000 flowers. The good news is that since it is a spice with a very powerful aroma, it is only necessary to use a very small amount of saffron.
In fact, half a gram of saffron or even less is enough to spice up a whole pot of casserole or rice. (On average one kilogram of rice requires ten saffron threads, no more than half a gram total.)
Saffron is very sensitive to high humidity and light. It is therefore highly recommended to store it in a dry and dark place. In general, saffron should be stored in a hermetically sealed container and placed in a dark cabinet some distance from the cooking fumes that may penetrate and damage the storage vessel. It is recommended to use saffron within three to six months at most from the day of purchase.
Although saffron does not spoil even after six months, its taste and odor diminish over time. This is why saffron is usually sold in tiny quantities of up to five ounces.
What are the nutritional values of saffron?
Here are the nutritional values of 100 grams of saffron:
310 calories, 11.43 grams of protein, 65.37 grams of carbohydrates, 5.85 grams of fat, 3.9 grams of fiber and 11.9 grams of water.
- Vitamin B1, about 0.115 mg.
- Vitamin B2, about 0.267 mg.
- Vitamin B3, about 1.46 mg.
- Folic acid, about 93 mcg.
- Vitamin B6, about 1.01 mg.
- Vitamin A, about 27 mcg.
- Vitamin C about 80.8 mg
- Sodium, about 148 mg.
- Potassium, about 172 mg.
- Zinc, about 1.1 mg.
- Phosphorus, about 252 mg.
- Magnesium, about 264 mg.
- Iron, about 11.1 mg.
- Calcium, about 111 mg.
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