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Get acquainted with saffron and discover the many benefits that this spice brings. Derived from the Crocus sativus Linnaeus, this spice has been used for a variety of purposes for over 4,000 years. We are happy to tell you more about the origin of this herb and about what it is still used for in practice today. Got curious? Then read on for more information.

Where does saffron come from?

Saffron and flower of the Crocus sativusThe spice saffron is extracted from the Crocus sativus, a perennial flower bulb species that sprouts from a spherical tuber. The Crocus sativus blooms in autumn and reproduces only through its tubers and not by seed. The flower, also called saffron flower, of this bulbous plant contains three stigmas that eventually form the saffron when dried. After drying and ripening, the saffron threads can be used for medical, flavor enhancement and pigmentation purposes.

The saffron crocus does not occur in the wild, but is cultivated for its saffron in a large number of countries around the world. Iran is by far the largest producer of saffron, but the saffron flowers are also grown on a large scale in countries such as India, Afghanistan, China, Spain and some countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

In recent decades, we at Bloembollenbedrijf J.C.Koot have specialized in the optimal cultivation of the Crocus sativus. Thanks to this specialization, we can supply Crocus sativus bulbs that produce a lot of saffron flowers and we have now grown into the most important wholesaler in the Netherlands and beyond.

The most expensive spice in the world

If you are wondering what is the most expensive spice in the world, we can tell you with certainty that it is saffron. But why is saffron so expensive? This is mainly because the production of saffron is quite intensive due to the much manual work that must be done to obtain a small quantity of this spice. Not to mention that in order to produce one kilogram of saffron spice, it takes about 150,000 to 200,000 flowers of the Crocus sativus. Because it takes a lot of manual labor and crocus bulbs to produce a decent amount of saffron, this spice is often considered the most expensive spice in the world. Therefore, saffron is popularly called the "red gold".

Its use

Saffron in the kitchen

As you have read in the introduction of this text, there are various applications in which you can use saffron. To this day, we see that this spice is still regularly used in the kitchen to give dishes extra flavor and, above all, color. The taste of saffron is best described as honeyed with earthy influences with an aftertaste that can be called slightly bitter. Due to the natural color properties of saffron, it is ideal for giving rice dishes such as paella and risotto a nice yellow color. Mainly because of its taste, it is used, for example, in some Arab countries to give coffee and tea extra flavor. It is therefore highly recommended to experience the taste and color of this spice yourself and to incorporate it into your dishes according to your own preference.

Saffron health benefits

Another application in which we also see the use of saffron is for medical purposes. For thousands of years this spice has proven to have various health benefits and before people started using it in the kitchen, this was the main reason why this spice owes its popularity. Some of the saffron health benefits attributed to this spice are:

  • A natural antidepressant;
  • A calming effect;
  • Strengthening the respiratory system, immune system, cardiovascular system, nervous system and reproductive system;
  • The carotenoids present help slow down macular degeneration.

In addition to the above health benefits of saffron, it can also be used to relieve pain such as toothache, headache, stomach cramps and various other complaints. Several studies have also been conducted that have shown that this spice can have a positive influence on weight loss, as this remedy suppresses the feeling of hunger.

Saffron benefits in other applications

In addition to the above purposes, saffron can also be used in other ways. For example, saffron dye can be used to dye garments or other items. In addition, saffron powder can be mixed with cream to make the skin smoother and more radiant. In history, this herb was often mixed with milk and sandalwood, among other things, to make face masks. Nowadays there are even many health products for sale, such as nutritional saffron supplements, creams and masks containing saffron.

Points to consider while buying saffron

Due to the high price of saffron, this spice is unfortunately susceptible to fraud and this is precisely the reason why it is always important to keep a few things in mind. For example, if this herb is offered at a bargain price, you can usually assume that this is not an authentic herb. It is also always important to check with the supplier where the saffron was produced. You can also often see and feel from the spice itself whether you are dealing with authentic or counterfeit. For example, always check that the threads are not too dry or sticky and that all threads have the same shape. You can find more tips on buying this spice on our page about buying saffron tips.

This was just a brief summary of what saffron is and what it can be used for. Clicking on the images below will take you to the pages where we go deeper into the various topics discussed above.