Using Saffron ‘the most expensive of spices’


Saffron was once worth more than gold and is still the most expensive spice, I use saffron in quite a few of my recipes, so I thought I would write a little about this precious spice.

Saffron, Crocus sativus has been used medicinally, in food and rituals for millennia, the pharaohs of Egypt reputedly used saffron as an aphrodisiac and reference to its use can be traced back to 1500 BC

Saffron has been used as a dye for hair and clothing, it  is said to reduce fevers, cramps, rheumatism, neuralgia and aid the liver. Ingesting large amounts of saffron can be deadly, so do not use medicinally without first consulted your medical practitioner.

The purple saffron crocus produces only 3 stigmas or filaments per flower and the plant can only be reproduced from bulbs as the seed is sterile. Once the stigmas have been picked, they are dried by roasting to remove their water content, which brings out the redness of the filaments. One kilo of raw stigmas reduces to 200 grams of ready to use saffron.

Only a small pinch of saffron is needed in your cooking it is best to soak the filaments before use.

Place the whole filaments in warm liquid at a ratio of 1 part saffron to 3 parts liquid. and allow to soak for at least 2 hours the flavour is fuller the next day.

Saffron complements any recipe and can be added to breads, cakes sauces, syrups, drinks and deserts as well as savoury dishes.

My method for making saffron and ginger syrup is on the recipe page of this blog as well as this post.

Saffron filaments
Dried Saffron filaments


  • pinch of saffron pre soaked,
  • (1 part saffron to 3 parts liquid for at least 2 hours, the filaments will swell and release the flavours)
  • 100 grams sliced fresh ginger
  • half a cup (200 mls)  raw sugar
  • 1 and a half cups (600 mls) water
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger (Zingiber officinale)


  • add sugar and water to a heavy based pan and slowly heat until sugar has dissolved.
  • add sliced ginger and slow simmer for 10 minutes.
  • remove from heat and stir through the saffron, cover and allow to cool.
  • place in jar and leave in the fridge until ready for use.
  • strain off liquid when ready to use.

The syrup should keep in the refrigerator for up to  3 months.

One Comment Add yours

  1. This is a well written and very interesting article about saffron spices 🙂


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