The reason saffron is the highest-priced of spices is because of the intensive hand labor required to cultivate and harvest it. It is the stamen of a small purple crocus flower; it takes about an acre of land and 75,000 flowers to yield one pound of saffron. Each flower blooms for only about one week of the year, during which the stamens must be hand-picked and dried.
Saffron may well be the oldest of all cultivated spices--as depicted on the ruins of the walls of the palace of Knossos, Crete dating from 1700 BC! Saffron's history is laden with unusual uses. The Greeks considered saffron to be the essence of youth and life, a proper gift for newlyweds. Phoenician newlyweds slept on pillows strewn with saffron. Ancient Chinese attributed saffron with considerable medicinal properties and drank it as a tea for almost any ailment. Modern Chinese still use it in medicinal respects as a catalyst for healing power when mixed with other herbs. Romans used it to perfume public places in need of olfactory improvement. Another example where saffron has been used for its scent is the Asian custom of welcoming guests when they arrive by sprinkling saffron over their clothes. It takes very little saffron to turn water yellow, leading to its use as a natural dye in the past. The traditional caste markings of wealthy people in India were saffron-colored. Because saffron is so expensive it is rarely used as a dye in modern times, except in special circumstances, Indian women still often dye their wedding gowns and veils this beautiful golden color.
We offer it in a 5 gram vial.