Saffron

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Saffron is the carefully dried stigmas of crocus sativus flowers, a small perennial plant about a foot tall. Each crocus has three female parts (stigmas), two male parts (stamen). Each stigma is threadlike in appearance and is red or dark red in color towards the top and yellow towards the bottom of the stigma, where it is attached to the flower. Saffron has a bitter flavor and a pungent odor.

Description

Saffron is the carefully dried stigmas of crocus sativus flowers, a small perennial plant about a foot tall. Each crocus has three female parts (stigmas), two male parts (stamen). Each stigma is threadlike in appearance and is red or dark red in color towards the top and yellow towards the bottom of the stigma, where it is attached to the flower. Saffron has a bitter flavor and a pungent odor. The flavor, aroma, and coloring capability come from the red part of the stigma. The yellow part has no value as a spice. We counted enough unbroken threads of our Kashmiri saffron until its weight reached one gram. There were 500+ threads of Kashmiri saffron in one gram. Since three threads represent one flower, It would take on average about 200+ flowers to produce one gram of saffron. Keep in mind that Kashmiri saffron threads are larger than other non-Kashmiri saffron threads

Specification

Sr no. Characterstic Specification
Saffron in Filaments Saffron in Powder Form
i) Moisture and volatile matter, percent by mass, Max 12 10
ii) Total ash, percent by mass, on dry basis, Max 8 8
iii) Acid-insoluble ash, percent by mass on dry basis, Max
a) Grade 1 and 2 1.0 1.0
b) Grade 3 and 4 1.5 1.5
iv) Solubility in cold water, percent by mass on dry basis, Max 65 65
v) Bitterness, expressed as direct reading of the absorbance of picrocrocine at 257 nm, on dry basis, Min
  a) Grade 1 70 70
  b) Grade 2 55 55
  c) Grade 3 40 40
  d) Grade 4 30 30
vi) Safranal, expressed as direct reading of the absorbance at 330 nm, on dry basis,
  Min-max 20-50 20-50
vii) Colouring strength, expressed as direct reading of the absorbance of crocine at 440 nm, on dry basis, Min
  a) Grade 1-2 190-150 190-150
  c) Grade 3-4 110-80 110-80
viii) Total nitrogen, percent by mass on dry basis, Max 3.0 3.0
ix) Crude fibre, percent, by mass on dry basis, Max 6 6

Uses

Saffron has been used as spice and coloring agent for many centuries and has numerous medicinal properties. It is by far one of the oldest herbs ever used for medicinal purposes in the history of mankind and up to this date it is being used in some regions of the world such as India. It has been written that around 600 B.C. Phoenicians were looking for a mysterious plant in Kashmir, one whose flower had silky stigmas with a pungent aroma. The stigmas were thought to cure many illnesses and also had the capability of making strong dye. Europeans are believed to be among the first to use saffron as a spice in their cooking. Saffron is also used in many other industries such as the tobacco industry, alcohol industry, dairy industry, cosmetic industry for perfumes and facial creams, and the dye industry. Cleopatra used it to give her skin a golden color and romantic aroma. Saffron is also used in religious ceremonies. Tibetan Monks use saffron for prayer and blessing. Calligraphers have used saffron to write religious books such as the Koran.