Carolyn's Daily Posts: 2011

March 18, 2011

Saffron: The Priciest Spice



     Forget frankincense and myrrh, the precious spices in the Bible.

    Instead, substitute saffron. It is the most precious and most expensive spice in the world. Therefore, having any saffron is better than having no saffron.*

     During part of the time I was living in Stone Mountain, Georgia (an Atlanta suburb) my friend Shirl and I had a business selling herbs and spices. I recalled that saffron sold in the local grocery store for approximately $2500 per pound. That’s one or two strings of saffron.  

     I checked the Internet to get an idea of its price in the 2011 spice market. On clearance, Moroccan saffron costs $5.00 a gram.* There are 453.6 grams in a pound**. Do the math: that’s $2267.96 per pound.


      Saffron filaments, or threads, are actually the dried stigmas of the saffron flower, “Crocus Sativus Linneaus”. Each flower contains only three stigmas. These threads must be picked from each flower by hand, and more than 75,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one pound of Saffron filaments, making it the world?s most precious spice.
     But, because of saffron’s strong coloring power and intense flavor, it can be used sparingly. Saffron is used both for its bright orange-yellow color and for its strong, intense flavor and aroma.***

     My notes on saffron say saffron is the product of several kinds of crocus, especially the blue flowered saffron crocus native to Greece and Asia Minor. It takes four thousand stigma to make an ounce of the spice.

     Saffron is used to make yellow dye and in coloring curries and stews. It also lends color to varnishes.


     It’s known that a Greek girl who partakes of saffron for an entire week would not resist a lover. It has also been told that, when the crocus is in season in the Mideast countries, residents must wear pollen masks to avoid breathing too much of the pollen. If too much is inhaled, there is a resultant high. This is confirmed in Tournafort’s Herbal, where it is claimed that an overdose may well cause death by laughter. He quotes: I saw a lady of Trent almost shaken to pieces with laughing immoderately for a space of three hours, occasioned by her taking too much saffron.







I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon: A Playlet


Basil Folklore

March days to celebrate


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