Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Saffron Crocus

Barbara’s Favorite Flowers: Saffron Crocus

These are Barbara’s favorite fall flowers, and flowers for her kitchen! The Saffron Crocus (C. sativus), blooms in the fall garden, when there is very little other blooms so differentiating itself from the spring blooming non-culinary common crocus.

Here is what Barbara has to say about her favorite fall flower:

Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridacae. Each saffron crocus grows to 20–30 cm (8–12 in) and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpal. The dried stigmas and styles must be hand picked and are known as the “most expensive spice in the world.” Saffron gives the exquisite and unique flavoring and color to delicious Mediterranean, Arabic, and North African dishes.

The Saffron Crocus, unknown in the wild, (it was hand-bred to be a diploid and therefore sterile), most likely descends from Crocus cartwrightianthus which originated in Crete or Central Asia. Saffron’s unique taste and fresh cut sweet grass-like fragrance results from the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid dye, crocin, which imparts a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles. Used as a spice, dye, and fragrance since 7th century Assyria, I think the idea of harvesting ones own personal saffron is incredibly cool (albeit a tad labor intensive)! Time to cook some fabulous Paella and Tagine.

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