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Q. What is saffron? Saffron is the dried stigmas of crocus sativus flowers, a small perennial plant about a foot tall. Each crocus has three female parts (stigmas), two male parts (stamen). Each stigma is threadlike in appearance and is red or dark red in color towards the top and yellow towards the bottom of the stigma, where it is attached to the flower. Saffron has a bitter flavor and a pungent odor. The flavor, aroma, and coloring capability come from the red part of the stigma. The yellow part has no value as a spice. We counted enough unbroken threads of our Kashmiri saffron until its weight reached one gram. There were 570 threads of Kashmiri saffron in one gram. Since three threads represent one flower, it would take on an average about 190 flowers to produce one gram of saffron. Keep in mind that Kashmiri saffron threads are larger than other non-Kashmiri saffron threads. Q.What are the uses of saffron? Saffron has been used as spice and coloring agent for many centuries and has numerous medicinal properties. It is by far one of the oldest herbs ever used for medicinal purposes in the history of mankind and up to this date it is being used in some regions of the world such as India. It has been written that around 600 B.C. Phoenicians were looking for a mysterious plant in Kashmir, one whose flower had silky stigmas with a pungent aroma. The stigmas were thought to cure many illnesses and also had the capability of making strong dye. Europeans are believed to be among the first to use saffron as a spice in their cooking. Saffron is also used in many other industries such as the tobacco industry, alcohol industry, dairy industry, cosmetic industry for perfumes and facial creams, and the dye industry. Cleopatra used it to give her skin a golden color and romantic aroma. Saffron is also used in religious ceremonies. Tibetan Monks use saffron for prayer and blessing. Calligraphers have used saffron to write religious books such as the Koran. Q.What is pure saffron? Since saffron is the world's most expensive spice, throughout history, dishonest dealers would adulterate their saffron by adding similar looking materials or by dyeing the yellow strands red, which is the sign of good quality saffron. Pure saffron contains only the stigma of the Crocus flower with nothing else added. Q.What is potent saffron? Saffron's potency comes from the red portion of the saffron strands (the Crocus stigma) and not the yellow portions that you find in lower grade saffron. Saffron can be pure, with nothing else added, but not potent. Saffron composed mostly of the yellow portions of the stigma is less potent than the same amount of saffron composed entirely of the red portions of the Crocus stigma. Q.What is the best way to store saffron? Saffron should be store in an airtight container and kept away from bright light and moisture. Bright light such as sunlight will bleach the color of the saffron. That is why when the Crocus flower blooms, the flower has to be picked at dawn (Sahar) before the sun shines on it. Q.How long can saffron be stored? Saffron can be stored for several years and will retain its potency if stored properly. Q.What is the difference between saffron threads and powder? In terms of quality, there is no difference between our saffron powder and threads. If you want powder, we grind it from threads so there is no "âadded"â material, in our facility or at the source. When cooking, the saffron powder will dissolve faster than its threads. If you use threads, you should steep them for at list 20 minutes in a warm liquid in your recipe (ie. water, wine, lemon, milk). There is no need to toast our saffron, because it contains no humidity and it has been completely cured. You may want to crush the threads between your fingers before dropping them in the warm liquid.