Aromas of Ancients: Saffron

Aromas of Ancients: Saffron

Welcome to the Topic “Aromas of Ancients: Saffron”

Popular and unique, Saffron has been used for thousands of years and is highly prized. Saffron has become a popular ingredient in our kitchens for its flavor, smell, and color and for its health benefits. Saffron is considered red gold with a sweet, hay-like smell and an intense reddish hue. 

Saffron- the priciest of all spices

Do you know why Saffron is so expensive? The extensive method by which Saffron is processed contributes to its high cost. The saffron crocus flower's threads are picked by hand by the farmers. Saffron is a labor-intensive crop to harvest, and each blossom only provides three little threads of the spice. Saffron is harvested from more than 1,000 crocuses in order to produce a single ounce of dried product! Thus, it requires intense labor and tremendous dedication to be processed. No wonder it was considered as valuable as gold!

Where does Saffron originate from?

Saffron's origins are unknown, but it is thought to have originated in Iran during the time of ancient Persia. In addition to Greece and Mesopotamia, these areas could be the origin source. For thousands of years, saffron crocus has been traded and utilized as a herbal remedy for various ailments, including cancer.

Uses in the Ancient times

Cleopatra's Saffron-infused baths.

As Egypt's final Ptolemaic ruler, Cleopatra is said to have bathed in saffron-laced mare's milk before her rendezvous with men, a mythology that has endured to this day. 

Medicinal uses

Egyptian medics used Saffron to treat various diseases, including stomach problems and infections of the urinary tract. The Sumerians in Mesopotamia employed Saffron obtained from wild crocus blossoms as an ingredient in their medicines and potions of the period. According to the ancient Egyptians, Saffron's healing abilities were attributed only to divine intervention.

Uses in arts and paintings

It has been discovered that saffron-based pigments were used to make cave art in modern-day Iraq. It's been 50,000 years since these drawings and paintings were made.

Religious uses

As early as the 10th century BC, in ancient Persia, Saffron was grown and used to construct Persian royal carpets and funeral shrouds. It was also utilized as a ritual offering, a dye, perfume, and a treatment for various diseases by worshipers in this area.

Uses as a fragrance

The ancient Greeks and Romans used Saffron as a perfume because of its wonderful aroma. Saffron pouches were worn around the necks of Greeks in Rhodes to disguise their odors when they were among the ordinary people. Scattering saffron in public locations and along city streets for important occasions was popular with the Greeks and Romans. Saffron baths and saffron threads in wine were equally popular among the Roman nobility.

Culinary uses

Saffron has long been a staple of the kitchen and the medical cabinet, dating back to the time of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Saffron was considered a panacea by the Greeks because of its positive effects on everything from mood and memory to sexuality. Recent research confirms the validity of those assumptions.

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