Saffron Fun Facts You Didn’t Already Know
Cultural/ Historical Facts:
- Saffron was the main ingredient in potions during ancient times.
- Saffron dye (also known as crocin dye) has been used in several cultures to dye royal garments. In ancient India, the dye extracted from saffron was used to colour clothing a rich golden colour. The colour of saffron was so sought after that after Buddha died, the Buddhist priests made the golden saffron colour the official colour of their robes. Similarly, in Egypt, saffron gold also became the official colour of Cleopatra’s robes.
- In addition to wearing saffron dyed robes, Cleopatra also used saffron as a type of cosmetic.
- Greek courtesans (prostitutes for the royals and wealthy men) used saffron as a perfume because of its aromatic smell.
- In the Middle Ages, anyone who was caught tampering with saffron to increase the quantity and weight of their product was buried alive as punishment. This was to deter sellers from selling harmful and adultered saffron in order to make illegal money.
- Romans used to take baths infused with saffron for the ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation experience.
- Romans would also sleep with expensive saffron stuffed pillows in order to cure hangovers.
- The ancient perfumers in Egypt to the physicians in Gaza and townspeople in Rhodes all used saffron in their scented waters, perfumes and potpourris, mascaras and ointments, divine offerings, and medical treatments.
- Many Ancient Greek myths tell stories of sailors who embarked on long journeys to the remote land of Cilicia, where they travelled to harvest what they believed was the most valuable saffron in the world. In the writings of Galen and Hippocrates, saffron was mentioned as a medical treatment for coughs, colds, stomach ailments, insomnia, uterine bleeding, scarlet fever, heart trouble, and flatulence.
- It takes about 75,000 crocus flowers to make one pound of saffron spice.
- 4,500 crocus flowers make up one ounce of saffron spice.
- Saffron can cost up to $315/oz. to $5,040/lb.
- Removing saffron stigmas from the crocus flowers is a very strenuous job because there are no machines that can separate these three delicate stigmas from the flower. Usually, it is elderly women who are delegated this role.
- It only takes a pinch of saffron (4-20 threads) to colour and flavour an entire meal. A little bit really does go a long way!
- In Afghanistan, saffron fields are replacing opium poppy plantations in a bid to combat drug trafficking.
- Saffron is one of the Indian flag’s three colours. Saffron represents Hindus, the white of the flag represents peace and the green represents growth.
- In Spain, it is customary to burn some saffron on a low fire during harvest time to diffuse the saffron’s aroma in the air.
- Saffron infused wine, vodka and gin are all available for purchase around the world and are renowned for their digestion aid properties!