Saffron is a spice obtained from Crocus sativus, a flower of Iridaceae family, mainly cultivated in Eurasia. Here in Italia, Saffron plantations are above all spread in Marche, Sardinia, Abruzzo and Umbria.
The term Saffron comes from old Latin “safranum”, coming from Arabic and menaing yellow.
Saffron crocus can grow up to about 20 cm (8 in). It has a thin stem with large purple flowers.
The spice derives from the stigmas of the flowers. Its main characteristic is giving dishes a yellow shade. It is used both for medical and gastronomic use.
This spice is probably the most expensive in the world, above all when sold with raw pistils, and not powdered. To use Saffron pistils, you need to infuse them in some hot water.
Saffron is much used in Mediterranean cuisines, to flavor fish or risottos. The best-known Italian recipe with Saffron is risotto alla milanese. You can also use it to season vegetables, like zucchini or red endive.
Fun fact: Saffron is also used in cosmetics, as it seems to be able to reduce skin ageing. It can also help against cholesterol and high blood pressure, and to enhance the immune system.