General English


  • noun a spice obtained from the dried flowers of the crocus plant Crocus sativus


  • The red/orange thread-like 3 branched styles of the perennial crocus, Crocus sativus, about 2.5 cm long with a penetrating aromatic flavour that is medicinal in high concentration. Cultivated from the Mediterranean to Kashmir. It is the most expensive spice known but a small amount (0.1 g) will both flavour a dish and colour it a brilliant gold. Sold either as strands which should be infused in hot water for at least 8 hours or as a red powder which gives a fast release of aroma. Used with fish and rice dishes and in buns. Often adulterated, and should only be purchased from reputable merchants.


  • noun an orange-coloured powder made from crocus flowers, from which colouring and flavouring are obtained

Origin & History of “saffron”

Saffron brought its name with it along the spice route from the middle east. It comes from Arabic za‘farān, a word of unknown origin, and reached English via medieval Latin safranum and Old French safran. The town of Saffron Walden in Essex is so named from its once thriving saffron-growing industry.