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The saffron


The Saffron

The saffron is a spice derived from the dried stigmas of the flower of Crochés sativus , a species of the genus Crocus < / em> within the Iridáceas family.

Saffron is characterized by its bitter taste and aroma; These come from its chemical components picrocrocin and safranal.

It also contains a carotenoid-like dye called crocin, which gives food a golden yellow color. This makes saffron a popular component in many dishes around the world. In Spain it is used as an indispensable component of paellas, it is also used in the preparation of rice, meat, soups, seafood and desserts. Due to its high economic value, it has been called red gold , having been the subject of many different adulterations and falsifications, taking advantage of its name and value.


Even though the origin of the word “saffron” is unknown, its name is very similar in different languages, having survived almost without alteration in Arabic (zafaran), English (saffron), French (safran), Italian (zafferano), Hindu, Greek, etc. One possible origin is the Old French word safran , which derives from the Latin safranum . [] and that comes from the Arabic word asfar which means yellow and is a synonym for zafaran.

History and origins

There are references to saffron dating from the year 2300 BC. C. From this date the references on its use in religious rites and ceremonies, in medicine, in gastronomy, etc. are varied and diverse.

According to research by Egyptologists, it was already widely used in ancient Egypt. In the Songs of Solomon the name of Karkom was already mentioned, as one of the most praised products of the vegetable kingdom. The Greek name Krokos and the Latin name Crocum (Crocus of Poets) are related to this word, perhaps coming from India.

In Greek and Roman literature it is frequently cited, and what is said about saffron in such works demonstrates the important role that the color and smell of saffron had in the refined life of classical antiquity. It has been frequently used as a dye. The party dresses were dyed with saffron and saffron was scattered on the floor of the rooms where feasts were held and the cushions were filled with saffron.

A definitive identification of the saffron dates from 1,700- 1,600 a. C. in a painting in the palace of Minos at Knossos in Crete. Another fresco dates from 1,500 BC. C. and features a young woman ceremonially harvesting saffron, recently discovered at Akrotiri on the island of There. The saffron is collected, chopping the entire flower in Minos while the young girls from Teran chop only the stigmata directly.

In Egypt about 1,000 B.C. the saffron could be used in embalming or later occasionally for coloring of shrouds where the mummies were covered, the females yellow and the males red. Saffron was an important coloring in ancient Greece and in Rome it was used to color wedding clothes. It was once used as hair dye by the Romans.

The Greeks considered it as a sensual perfume.It was scattered in Greek vestibules, courtyards, and theaters, and in Roman baths; the streets of Rome were sprinkled with a saffron when Nero entered the city.

[] Another commercial focus was Venice, whose main buyers were the Germans. Special employees who were part of the Ufficio dello Zafferano and were armed, were in charge of inspecting the saffron merchants and preventing it from being falsified. The importance of the saffron trade in Germany can already be deduced from the fact that in 1,448 a saffron consignment destined for Germany was registered in Verona and was valued at 10,000 ducats.

In England saffron was traded in October. The commercial temptation seems to have overcome the scruples of some merchants and adulteration was known, it is not known if for the fiber of horse meat, with pieces of onion skin or colored chalk; the penalties with guilt were severe.

Cultivation and Collection


The first thing to keep in mind regarding the cultivation of saffron is that this plant must have a life cycle of cultivation of 4 years. After these, the bulbs must be removed from the ground to clean their last layer and eliminate the “culote” to replant them and have no problem following their planting cycle.

The appropriate months for sowing are July or September, always in a well-fertilized area prior to sowing. A lot of fertilizer has to be added, if possible to be natural “manure” so that the plant does not lack nutrients during the four years the plant will last.

The bulb should be about 18 cm. underground and with the corner upwards so that the plant can be born without the effort of turning around by itself, between the bulbs there must be a separation of at least 10 cm, since over time the bulbs They will reproduce and will have land for their expansion. After planting by furrows, the land must be smoothed, taking into account not to press the earth too much so that it is loose and the plant oxygenated.

It is very important to have the cultivated land very clean of weeds, they eat the food that we have put in for the saffron and the production decreases markedly if the field is not constantly cared for.

Saffron is a rainfed crop although it can also be grown under irrigation, always without going overboard since the bulb is very sensitive to humidity and would end up rotting. Being irrigated, the flowering season can be brought forward and production increases, but the discomfort of having much more sow is also notable.


In the Jiloca region, the flowering season occurs in October – November, the way to know what day the season begins is to constantly monitor the field, flowering always occurs gradually, with little flower starting and every day it goes out more until it reaches a point called “florada”, this is the moment when the field gives the most amount of flower in a single day, from this and also gradually each day it will give a little less until the end of the season, the days when there is a flower are between 20 and 25 days.

To collect the flowers well, it is convenient to be in the field as soon as the light of dawn lets its first rays glimpse, at dawn the flower is closed and this circumstance causes a faster collection and the brightness, which is within the closed flower, keeps all the freshness until the time of its desbrizne. From 11 in the morning the flower opens making harvesting more uncomfortable.

The operators use wicker baskets in which they can lean and thus reduce the effort to bend down for each flower a little, once they re

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