Saffron is a spice full of flavour and properties. It belongs to the family Iridaceae and derives from a flower whose botanical name is Crocus Sativus. This small herbaceous plant is typically found in Asia and consists of a bulb, called corm, from which a purple flower develops. Inside this flower, grown among filiform leaves, there are three long filaments, called stigma, of a red-orange colour, which once collected and dried can be used as a spice. It takes roughly 150 flowers to make 1 gram of precious saffron.
We appreciate this spice for its versatility in cooking: it is widely used in both savoury and sweet dishes, in traditional and innovative recipes, by Michelin star chefs or simply at home. This pure spice is perfect to create unique and special dishes.
But its properties go beyond its culinary use: rich in carotenoids (crocetin, crocin, picrocrocin and safranal), which give food the typical golden colour, vitamin A, B1 and B2. More specifically, safranal is an organic compound which seems to have a good impact on cerebral activity. Saffron is believed to be a powerful antioxidant, in other words it removes free radicals, which cause cellular aging. It also helps digestion, stimulating the digestive system and increasing the secretion of bile and gastric acids: this is why it is often used to make digestives.
The history of saffron dates back to ancient times and it depends of its various uses. Even the name of the flower from which it derives, Crocus Sativus, hides a romantic legend rooted in Greek mythology. Crocus was a handsome mortal youth who fell in love with the nymph Smilax, and his feelings were reciprocated. Unfortunately, Smilax was also Hermes’ favourite, so, moved by jealousy, he turned Crocus into this beautiful flower.