Saffron, golden-coloured, pungent stigmas (pollen-bearing structures) of the autumn crocus (Crocus sativus), which can be dried and used as a spice to flavour foods and as a dye to color foods and other goods. Saffron has a powerful, exotic aroma and a bitter flavor and is used to flavour and colour many Asian and Mediterranean dishes, particularly fish and rice, and English, Scandinavian, and Balkan breads. It’s an important ingredient in bouillabaisse soup.
Saffron is cultivated chiefly in Iran but is also grown in Spain, France, Italy (on the lower spurs of the Apennines Range), and components of India. A labour-intensive crop, the three stigmas are handpicked from Each flower, spread on trays, and dried over charcoal fires for use as a food flavouring and colouring. A pound (0.45 kilogram) of saffron represents 75,000 blossoms. Saffron contains 0.5 to 1 percent essential oil, the principal component of that is picrocrocin. The colouring matter is crocin.