WHAT IS SAFFRON?
Saffron is one of the most expensive spices around. It can cost upwards of $10,000 USD per lb (half a kilo) for the good stuff. The crocus flower’s stamen is the source of this spice. Each plant only yields 3 stamens which need to be picked by hand and then dried (lowering it’s weight). This is one of the major reasons why it’s so expensive. It takes over 100,000 flowers on average just to generate 1 lb. However the cheaper spice you see with the same name at your local store isn’t the same thing. It’s often a lower grade that’s artificially colored and flavored with other spices to simulate a higher quality version.
WHY IS SAFFRON GOOD FOR YOU?
It’s thought to promote mental health by having the same effect as anti-depressants by regulating serotonin and dopamine in the brain. The anti-oxidants present help prevent cellular deterioration and even hair loss (when topically applied). The compound safranal present in saffron can act as a pain-reliever and is often used in some countries for teething babies.
WHEN IS SAFFRON IN SEASON?
These red flowers are unique in that they bloom in the fall instead of the spring like most plants. Planting occurs several months earlier in the spring.
HOW SHOULD SAFFRON BE STORED?
Unless you own a farm, this spice is only available in its dried form. Like most other desiccated ingredients, store in a cool, dark place with an airtight seal and it’ll keep for 3 to 6 months.
IS SAFFRON AN APHRODISIAC?
For thousands of years it’s been reputed to be an expensive but effective sexual aid. The famous Egyptian ruler Cleopatra bathed in saffron-infused donkey milk to enhance her “appeal.” While today scientists aren’t 100% sure, this spice has been shown in some experiments to increase sexual desire after consumption. Unlike the false claims surrounding ingredients like chocolate, it’s also been shown to promote the production of sperm in men (if it did that in women that would be a medical miracle)!