Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”.
A degree of uncertainty surrounds the origin of the name “saffron”. It might stem from the Persian intercessor za’farān (yellow).
Saffron crocus bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are the distal end of a carpel. The styles and stigmas, called threads, are hand collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. Roughly 150 flowers together yield 1 g (0.035 oz) of dry saffron threads; to produce 12 g (0.42 oz) of dried saffron (or 72 g (2.5 oz) moist and freshly harvested), 1 kg (2.2 lb) of flowers are needed;
Saffron, long among the world’s most costly spices by weight. Its taste and iodoform or hay-like fragrance combined with its rich golden-yellow have granted it a special place in the kitchen. Saffron was probably first cultivated in Greece, it was slowly propagated throughout much of Eurasia and was later brought to parts of North Africa, North America, and Oceania. Perhaps its rarity is responsible for its centuries-long reputation as an aphridisiac.
According to the legend Zeus was sleeping in a bed made of saffron. In many civilizations, the veils were colored with saffron and the rich Romans scattered stigmas of saffron in their bridal beds -which probably explains the latin phrase praising the careless euphoria: Dormvit in sacco croci -He slept in a bed made of saffron.