Uses (saffron use)
Saffron's aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods. Saffron is widely used in Persian, Indian, European, Arab, and Turkish cuisines. Confectioneries and liquors also often include saffron. Common saffron substitutes include safflower (Carthamus tinctorius, which is often sold as "Portuguese saffron" or "açafrão"), annatto, and turmeric (Curcuma longa).
Saffron has also been used as a fabric dye, particularly in China and India, and in perfumery. It is used for religious purposes in India, and is widely used in cooking in many cuisines, ranging from the Milanese risotto of Italy, the paella of Spain, the bouillabaisse of France, to the biryani with various meat accompaniments in South Asia. One of the most esteemed use for saffron is in the preparation of the Golden Ham, a precious dry-cured ham made with saffron from San Gimignano.
Saffron has a long history of use in traditional medicine
Dried saffron is composed of 12% water, 65% carbohydrates, 6% fat and 11% protein (table).
As for other spices or dried foods, the nutrient content of dried saffron in a 100 gram amount shows richness of nutritional value across B vitamins and dietary minerals (table). In a typical serving of one tablespoon (2 grams), however, only manganese is present as 28% of the Daily Value while other nutrients are negligible.
One limited meta-analysis concluded that saffron supplementation improved symptoms in patients with major depressive disorders and a review indicated that it helped with mild to moderate depression
The documented history of saffron cultivation spans more than three millennia. The wild precursor of domesticated saffron crocus was Crocus cartwrightianus. Human cultivators bred wild specimens by selecting for unusually long stigmas; thus, a sterile mutant form of C. cartwrightianus, C. sativus, likely emerged in late Bronze Age Crete.