Monday, 22 April 2013

A-Z Challenge --"S" is for Saffron

Well, Hello there!!! I am so pleased that you stopped by  to visit!

    For the past many years I have had an, make that a fascination with herbs, spices and seasonings. - About how they were used by our ancestors centuries ago for a variety of ailments, and how they are used today to enhance your favorite recipe.

With this in mind I am attempting to present a different herb, spice or seasoning  for each day of the  A-Z Challenge. Please drop by often and perhaps we both will learn something new.

Learn more about these terms

      "S" is for Saffron

Here we are....up to the letter "S"...only seven more to go!!!  I considered Sage, Summer savory, and Sea salt, but wanted to learn more about this spice although I have never used it. Say "hello" to


According to Greek mythology, handsome mortal Crocos fell in love with the beautiful nymph Smilax. But alas, his favors were rebuffed by Smilax, and he was turned into a beautiful purple crocus flower. 
The word saffron derives from the Arab word zafaran, meaning yellow, and it was mentioned as far back as 1500 b.c. in many classical writings, as well as in the Bible. 
Pure saffron is made up of tiny, bright-red threads. The redder the saffron, the higher the quality. The tips of the threads should be a slightly lighter orange-red color. This will show that it is not cheap saffron that has been tinted red to look expensive.

When determining how much saffron to use in cooking, remember that the saffron flavor will be stronger the second day. In general, just use a pinch in soups and stews that serve 4 to 6 people.

Saffron is especially good when used in cooking seafood dishes such as bouillabaisse and paella. It is also used in risotto and other rice dishes. Try adding some to your next beef stew or tomato-based sauce. To make a wonderful marinade for fish, add saffron threads, garlic, and thyme to vinegar. Saffron is also used in bread and cake cooking. Use your imagination and be creative when using saffron in your cooking. 

Medicinal uses of Saffron

Saffron is a plant. The dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound(0.45kg) of saffron spice. Saffron is largely cultivated and harvested by hand. Due to the amount of labor involved in harvesting, saffron is considered one of the world's most expensive spices. The stigmas are also used to make medicine.

Saffron is used for asthma, cough, whooping cough (pertussis), and to loosen phlegm (as an expectorant). It is also used for sleep problems (insomnia), cancer, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), intestinal gas (flatulence), depression, Alzheimer's disease, fright, shock, spitting up blood (hemoptysis), pain,hearatburn, and dry skin.

Saffron is also used to increase interest in sex (as an aphrodisiac) ..just be careful of that  Smilax chick!... and to induce sweating.

Some people apply saffron directly to the scalp for baldness (alopecia).


The material provided on this site is designed for information and educational purposes only. The materials are not intended to be a self diagnostic and/or self treatment tool. I encourage you to use this information as a tool for discussing your condition with your health practitioner.    *The medicinal usages are for informational and educational purposes only*



  1. Wow, lots of interesting medicinal uses, as well as for cooking and baking. I just love the name. It sounds so romantic. Great 'S' post.
    Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

    1. Thanks, Kathy. I have never used pure saffron, but the name does sound romantic.

  2. I have used saffron as long as I can remember. As you said, very expensive. I always keep some handy. It does add a distinctive colour and taste to foods.


    1. Oh,Jo, I so have to find a way to be your favorite neighbor so I can drop in and savor some of your lovely treats!!! Thanks!

  3. Patricia, another great post. This is the one spice I am afraid of. Why? Maybe the expense. Maybe that I haven't eaten many foods using saffron. I am going to give it a go, though, after reading this post. Thanks for the courage!

    1. I have a lot to learn yet about spices, Angelica, and this is one I will have to experiment with..... cautiously, though!
      Thanks for your kind words.

  4. Thanks for sharing! You have a new follower from A to Z!

  5. I like the taste of saffron, but I had no idea it had so many medicinal uses. I think it's fascinating that people figured these things out through trial and error without the help of modern instruments.

    Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,

  6. Interesting facts, Yolanda. I'm not familiar with this saffron in my own cooking but will try it now.

  7. I have never used saffron, but have always wanted to give it a try, like one of your other readers, I think maybe the expense has always made me think twice.