Food & Beverage
Set 1, 2015
Saffron was brought to India by the Persian rulers around 500 BC, and it is believed that the cultivation and various uses spread from Kashmir though the Indian subcontinent.
Famous Kashmir poet and scholar Mohammed Yusuf Teng stated that the plant had been cultivated in Kashmir for more than two millennia. The Kashmiri Tantric Hindu epics of that time mention about saffron cultivation as well.
Nature of Saffron
Saffron is a small bulbous perennial plant with the botanical name of Crocus sativus Linn, growing 15 to 25 cm high. It is mainly cultivated for its large, scented, blue or lavender flowers, which have divided, orange coloured stigmas. The flowering period of saffron begins during middle or late October and lasts only until the first or second week of November.
The blooming and development, as well as number of flower depend on the temperature of Spring and Autumn, and depend also on the amount of rainfall, the ideal environment for cultivation of saffron being cool dry climate and rich soil with excellent drainage and organic content. India is one of the premium producers and exporters of top-grade 'coupe' saffron around the world, with Jammu & Kashmir as the place where saffron is predominately cultivated in India. Kashmir is actually considered one of the three prominent cultivating places of saffron all over the world.
Uses of Saffron
Saffron has various uses, from culinary to medicinal and even aesthetic. In ancient period, the Kashmiri saffron was used as a fabric dye, soaking saffron stigmas in water to form a golden-yellow solution that was used as a fabric dye. The usable saffron is produced by drying the stigmas and part of the styles of the purple autumn crocus.
Saffron has a bitter taste and a penetrating aromatic odor, and it can be added to various food items for coloring and flavoring. It is also used as herbal medicine for curing several health issues, infections and disorders and it can be used as a perfume, or as make up: some Indian women use saffron for the forehead mark.
The plant is considered to be one of the oldest and most expensive spices in the world, with its numerous uses that made it one of the most sought after plants.