saffron

/saf"reuhn/, n.
1. Also called vegetable gold. a crocus, Crocus sativus, having showy purple flowers.
2. an orange-colored condiment consisting of its dried stigmas, used to color and flavor foods.
3. Also, saffron yellow. yellow-orange.
[1150-1200; ME saffran, saffron OF safran < ML saffranum < Ar za'faran]

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Golden-coloured, pungent seasoning and dye obtained from the dried stigmas of flowers of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a bulbous perennial of the iris family.

Because 1 lb (0.45 kg) of saffron represents 75,000 blossoms, it is the world's most expensive spice. The colour and flavour are essential ingredients for certain Mediterranean and Asian dishes, as well as for special English, Scandinavian, and Balkan baked goods. Since ancient times, saffron has been the official colour for the robes of Buddhist priests and for royal garments in several cultures. Greeks and Romans scattered saffron as a perfume in halls, courts, theatres, and baths.

Saffron (Crocus sativus)

Emil Muench
Ostman Agency

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plant
 purple-flowered saffron crocus, Crocus sativus, a bulbous perennial of the iris family (Iridaceae) treasured for its golden-coloured, pungent stigmas, which are dried and used to flavour and colour foods and as a dye. Saffron is named among the sweet-smelling herbs in Song of Solomon 4:14. It has a strong, exotic aroma and a bitter taste. It is used to colour and flavour many Mediterranean and Oriental dishes, particularly rice and fish, and English, Scandinavian, and Balkan breads. It is an important ingredient in bouillabaisse.

      A golden-coloured, water-soluble fabric dye was distilled from saffron stigmas in India in ancient times. Shortly after Buddha died, his priests made saffron the official colour for their robes. The dye has been used for royal garments in several cultures.

      As a perfume, saffron was strewn in Greek and Roman halls, courts, theatres, and baths; it became especially associated with the hetaerae, a professional class of Greek courtesans. The streets of Rome were sprinkled with saffron when Nero made his entry into the city.

      Believed native to the Mediterranean area, Asia Minor, and Iran, the saffron crocus has long been cultivated in Iran and Kashmir and is supposed to have been introduced into Cathay by the Mongol invasion. It is mentioned in the Chinese materia medica (Pun tsaou, 1552–78). In early times, however, the chief seat of cultivation was in Cilicia, in Asia Minor. It was cultivated by the Arabs in Spain about 961 and is mentioned in an English leechbook, or healing manual, of the 10th century but may have disappeared from western Europe until reintroduced by the crusaders. During various periods, saffron has been worth much more than its weight in gold; it is still the most expensive spice in the world.

      Saffron is cultivated chiefly in Spain, France, Sicily, Italy (on the lower spurs of the Apennines Range), and in Iran, and Kashmir. The three stigmas are handpicked from each flower, spread on trays, and dried over charcoal fires for use as a food flavouring and colouring. A pound (0.45 kilogram) of saffron represents 75,000 blossoms. Saffron contains 0.5 to 1 percent essential oil, the principal component of which is picrocrocin. The colouring matter is crocin.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • SAFFRON — (Heb. כַּרְכֹּם, karkom), the Crocus sativus; an aromatic golden dye was extracted from the stigmas of its golden blossoms. It was also dried and used for flavoring foods. In the Bible karkom is mentioned once among the various spices that grew… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Saffron — Saf fron (?; 277), n. [OE. saffran, F. safran; cf. It. zafferano, Sp. azafran, Pg. a[,c]afr[ a]o; all fr. Ar. & Per. za far[=a]n.] 1. (Bot.) A bulbous iridaceous plant ({Crocus sativus}) having blue flowers with large yellow stigmas. See {Crocus} …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Saffron — Saf fron (?; 277), a. Having the color of the stigmas of saffron flowers; deep orange yellow; as, a saffron face; a saffron streamer. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Saffron — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Samantha Marie Sprackling Información personal Nombre real Samantha Marie Sprackling Nacimiento 3 de junio, 1968 (41 años) Ibadan, Nigeria …   Wikipedia Español

  • Saffron — Saf fron, v. t. To give color and flavor to, as by means of saffron; to spice. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] And in Latyn I speak a wordes few, To saffron with my predication. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • saffron — [saf′rən] n. [ME saffroun < OFr safran < ML safranum < Ar zaʼfarān] 1. a perennial Old World plant (Crocus sativus) of the iris family, with funnel shaped, purplish flowers having orange stigmas 2. the dried, aromatic stigmas of this… …   English World dictionary

  • saffron — (n.) c.1200, from O.Fr. safran (12c.), from M.L. safranum (Cf. It. zafferano, Sp. azafran), ultimately from Arabic za faran, of unknown origin …   Etymology dictionary

  • saffron — ► NOUN ▪ an orange yellow spice used for flavouring and colouring food, made from the dried stigmas of a crocus. ORIGIN Arabic …   English terms dictionary

  • Saffron — For other uses, see Saffron (disambiguation). Saffron crocus …   Wikipedia

  • saffron — [[t]sæ̱frɒn[/t]] 1) N UNCOUNT Saffron is a yellowish orange powder obtained from a flower and used to give flavour and colouring to some foods. ...saffron rice. 2) COLOUR Saffron is a yellowish orange colour. ...a Buddhist in saffron robes …   English dictionary

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