The Secret of Saffron

The Secret of Saffron

 Sometimes, Marcel wonders, what is so special about saffron! Marcel worked with Selina in her art school on many days to know more about the saffron. Selina would go through her album with paintings and photos of saffron and slowly explain to Marcel what she knows about saffron. Selina once told Marcel, “I remember better when I paint.”[1] Marcel pays attention what Selina has to say because, at times, it is tough for her to describe what she knows. Marcel listened very attentively what she says.

She always carries an album and her portable painting kit with her wherever she goes. Selina mostly depicts the variety of saffron flowers and their inhabitants, and tells many stories of growing and gathering saffron and its many uses. Marcel have had saffron flavored dishes before but never seen a flower or does not quite know what saffron is like. Selina showed Marcel a page from one of her albums depicting a saffron flower.

Selina believes that she has discovered the secret of saffron. The secret is in a particular variety of saffron. Depending upon the type where it is grown and how it is handled, its potency and efficacy are different as its color and fragrance.

Selina convinced Marcel that she had studied many varieties of saffron in the past to understand them and have kept notes. She believes that certain variety saffron in diet can help improve mild cognitive impairments at old age. As an artist, Selina specializes in saffron color –red, yellow and orange. The unique color of saffron may stimulate your brain, while color painting is a known way to rejuvenate your mind. The presence of many carotenoids in saffron causes its intense color. The single most important saffron pigment carotenoid such as crocin cause the intense color of saffron. Marcel felt that day that in spite of her illness Selina was doing a good job.

 The History:

Saffron was known to the Sumerians (modern days southern Iraqis) almost 5,000 years ago. The documented history of saffron cultivation spans more than three millennia.[2]…Saffron was detailed in 7th century BC Assyrian botanical reference compiled under Ashurbanipal. Documentation of saffron’s use over the span of 4,000 years in the treatment of some 90 illnesses has been uncovered.

Its propagation is possible only via corms; for saffron to be distributed over vast distances requires human help. Its’ beautiful flowers cannot produce any seeds. Its propagation is possible only via corms. Distribution over larger distance requires human help. Saffron, Crocus sativus probably appeared first in Crete (Greece).

Iran’s southern provinces, Kerman and Khorasan region represent bulk of modern saffron production. Greece and Morocco and India produces large quantities of saffron. Microscale production of saffron can be found in other parts of the world, including the United States. Saffron is not widely used in America because of culture. Europeans introduced saffron to Americas when immigrant brought corms with their luggage. American saffron cultivation survives into modern days, mainly in Pennsylvania. In Europe, saffron production is almost limited to the Mediterranean. Spanish (La Mancha) saffron has a reputation to be of high quality.

In recent days Saffron is cultivated from the Spain and India (Kashmir). Stories are diverse depending on where it is grown or found. Spanish saffron maybe a good variety. Kashmiri saffron has a high reputation but is hardly available outside India. It is produced in a small area around a village town in Jammu and Kashmir. Flowers show up for an about two weeks at the end of October or the beginning of November. They are picked from the plants (to stimulate more flower formation), and styles are separated and waste afterward. Including the final drying of the styles, all the work is done by families that use little or no modern technology.

[1] http://www.hilgos.org

[2] Saffron – Wikipedia