Aromatic plants

Saffron plant

The saffron plant – history

The ancient Egyptians knew the saffron plant, which they used to make ointments for sacred ceremonies and to dye fabrics. In ancient Greece the saffron plant was used for the same purposes, as well as as a medicine; in imperial Rome, saffron symbolized wealth. In the East, after the death of Buddha, Buddhist monks dyed their robes with the powder obtained from the saffron plant. With the barbarian invasions, the cultivation of this plant was lost in Europe and it was reintroduced by the Arabs during the invasion of the 10th century. In the Renaissance, interest in the saffron plant, used in medicine, was revived. After 1492, the fame of this plant declined in favor of the spices brought from the New World. Source:

The saffron plant – general information

The saffron plant is a herbaceous plant, provided with a spherical bulb about 2 cm high, from which the long and linear leaves emerge. The flowers of the saffron plant are violet, with a fragile style, ending with a stigma divided into 3 orange pistils, from which the spice is obtained. The collection and processing of saffron are still carried out according to tradition: from the end of October to the beginning of November, the open flowers are picked by hand, leaving intact those that have yet to open and that will be harvested later. The stigma is then detached, again by hand, dried and the spice is obtained from it. Just the processing, in addition to the minimum quantities obtained from each plant, makes this substance very valuable. Source:

The saffron plant – cultivation

Like all bulbous plants, the saffron plant requires the soil to be light and well drained; the bulbs can be planted from August to the end of September, in rows about thirty centimeters apart and at a depth of about 10-15 cm. The saffron plant tolerates cold temperatures well; however, any frosts and / or copious autumn rains could hinder and delay flowering. The saffron plant can also be grown in pots: in this case, the container must be large enough, especially considering the minimum amount of spice that is obtained from each plant. As for irrigation, the saffron plant is not very demanding, contenting itself with rainwater alone.

Saffron plant: The saffron plant – use

The flower is used from the saffron plant and, more precisely, the pistils which, once collected and left to dry in the sun, can be used whole or ground. In the kitchen, saffron is widely used to add color and flavor to dishes, also thanks to the fact that, unlike most spices, it does not add fat and its caloric intake is practically zero. Saffron risotto is famous, but this spice also goes well with shellfish, seafood and delicate sauces. In addition, the saffron plant is rich in carotenoids and vitamins A, B1 and B2, very useful substances to combat aging, promote digestion, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and increase the immune system. Source:

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