The Precious Spice
Saffron is one of the most beloved and precious spices of ancient cultures because of its aroma, colour, pharmaceutical and aphrodisiac properties. Cleopatra used it in her cosmetics, the ancient Phoenicians in their offerings to the goddess Astarte, Homer mentions it in his writings and it is even found in the Old Testament.
The locals are planting saffron every summer and when autumn comes, they remove the precious stigmas of the beautiful flower by hand and dry them thoroughly to make crimson slim threads. It takes about 50,000 stigmas to obtain 100gr of red saffron. Greek saffron is among the best saffron in the world, quality-wise.
Saffron as a plant, dye, medicinal herb or flavouring, was known in both ancient Greece and other ancient peoples. But the opinions of all those who have involved in any way with saffron, differ.
Some argue that saffron is native to the East where it was first cultivated. From there it was brought to Europe by the Crusaders in the 13th century A.D. Others have claimed that it originates in Greece and that it was first cultivated during the Middle Minoan era. This view is reinforced by a painting of that era (1600 B.C.) named “Krokosyllektis (saffron picker)” that was found in the palaces of Knossos, showing a young girl or boy, to some a monkey, picking saffron flowers and putting them in a hamper.It is also claimed that the Greeks engaged in cultivation of saffron during the Macedonian and Byzantine times. It was spread to the East through the expeditions of Alexander the Great.
What we can be most certain about the history of this plant is that the Arabs after systematically cultivating and using it not only as spice but mostly as a medicinal substance, brought it to Spain in 960 A.D. and from there it spread both directly and indirectly to other countries of Europe.
Impressive Health Benefits
- A powerfull antioxidant.
- May improve mood and treat dipressive symptoms.
- Has cancer-fighting properties.
- May reduce PMS symptoms.
- May act as an aphrodisiac
- May reduce appetite and aid weight loss
- May reduce heart disease risk factors
- May lower blood sugar levels
- May improve memory in adults with Alzheimer’s disease