SaffronSaffron — Saffron (Saffron Crocus), the common name for Crocus sativus of the IRIS family, Iridaceae, is a perennial fall-flowering plant. Its stigmas are a source of a yellow dye and a food flavoring. Native to Anatolia, saffron provided both a perfume and a yellow dye for the ancient world. Used today as a spice, it imparts a slightly bitter flavor and a yellow color to poultry, fish, and rice. It is an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisines. Some 225,000 stigmas must be handpicked and dried to make half a kilogram (one pound) of saffron, and the spice is probably the most expensive in the world. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant’s carpels. Together with its style, the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant, these components are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent. Saffron, which has for decades been the world’s most expensive spice by weight,is native to Southwest Asia. It was first cultivated in the vicinity of Greece.

Saffron is characterised by a bitter taste and an iodoform- or hay-like fragrance; these are caused by the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid dye, crocin, that gives food a rich golden-yellow hue. These traits make saffron a much-sought ingredient in many foods worldwide. Saffron also has medicinal applications.

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