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Saffron - Greek Herbs and Spices

By

Saffron (c) Jim Stanfield

Saffron

© Jim Stanfield

Greek name and pronunciation:

zafora or safrani, ζαφορά or σαφράνι, pronounced zah-for-AH or sah-FRAH-nee

At the market:

Saffron is sold in small packs of threads or in powdered form.

Physical characteristics:

Dried saffron threads range from orange-red to yellow, are between 1" - 1.5" long, and are shaped like pieces of very thin and cooked pasta that have dried and slightly curled. The best saffron has an aroma similar to honey and a flavor compared to bitter honey.

Usage:

In Greek cooking, saffron is used in salads, sauces for potatoes and vegetables, rice, soups, and boiled fish dishes. It is well known in the Mediterranean cuisines. Only a small amount (a few threads) is needed to impart the color and aroma.

Substitutes:

turmeric (use 4 times as much - for color only), or food coloring

Origin, History, and Mythology:

In Greek mythology, the mortal Crocos fell in love with the nymph Smilax. Smilax rejected his amorous advances and turned him into a beautiful purple crocus flower.

Though imported primarily from Spain, Saffron is also cultivated in England, India, Turkey, China and Iran.

In India, saffron's color is considered the epitome of beauty - it is the official color of Buddhist robes.

The name saffron comes from the Arabic word for saffron - "za'fran" - meaning "to be or to become yellow."

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