di Fausto Caboni
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organic farm
production of spices, cereals, mushrooms, legumes, vegetables

organic / p.d.o. / slow food presidium saffron

historical hints
Saffron is probably native of Asia Minor, its name comes from the Arabic word "za'faran" ("yellow"). The oldest document that certifies its production is an Egyptian papyrus of the 15th century B.C.. It came in Italy in the Roman age, but disappeared from Europe during the barbaric occupation. The Arabs reintroduced it in Spain from 961 A.D. and it re-expanded throughout Europe. In the Middle Ages it was used mainly with medicinal purpose, only in the Renaissance it reached the qualification of spice.
In Sardinia it came between the 6th and the 9th centuries thanks to the Basilian monks, who used it with liturgical purposes and as a textile dye. Saffron production in San Gavino Monreale began around the 13th century, thanks to the Pisans.
Its marketing, notably developed from the 17th century onwards, mainly through "is tzafaranaias", women that travelled around the countryside of southern Sardinia, but also in central Sardinia, where it was used to dye parts of the traditional costumes.
active ingredients
San Gavino
crocin (%) 10,63 +/- 0,21 5,92 +/- 0,28
picrocrocin (%) 20,26 +/- 0,13 10,41 +/- 0,42
safranal (%) 3,19 +/- 0,35 1,14 +/- 0,46
Saffron essentially contains three active ingredients:
» crocin, which determines the intensity of the colour,
» picrocrocin, which determines the intensity of the colour,
» safranal, which determines the strength of the aroma.
In the table on the right, you can see a comparison between the saffron threads from San Gavino Monreale and an average quality commercial saffron powder (source E.R.S.A.T. - "Le piante aromatiche, officinali e l'erboristeria" - 2001).
saffron plant
Saffron has many healthy properties:
» prevents aging, especially of the skin, thanks to its high content of carotenoids, which make it a powerful antioxidant,
» stimolates metabolism, thanks to its content in vitamin B,
» lowers cholesterol and triglycerides shares absorbed with food,
» helps digestion, thanks to its pigments that stimulate the secretion of bile and gastric acids,
» keeps under control depression and stress and relieve mood swings,
» strengthens memory, again thanks to its carotenoids.
saffron corms
In Sardinia, saffron has a four-year cycle. We plant it in September after a good tillage of the soil, then, if the weater allows, we will hoe it several times, manual on the row and with the help of a rotary tiller between the rows.
At the 4th year, at the beginning of summer, we dig up the corms, remove the thin tunics that cover them and replant them in another plot of land. In fact, the saffron crop impoverishes the soil, so where saffron was grown, we alternate other improving crops such as leguminous plants.
Saffron blooms in the November. Every morning we pick the flowers by hand and in the evening sort out the threads (three per flower) and do "sa feidadura": it consists of touching saffron with the fingers just dipped in olive oil to give it more brightness and to preserve it better. Finally, we dry it at a temperature below 40 degrees.
We work hard to get the final product, and this is the reason of its big value and its epithet: "red gold".
use in cooking
pour the powder of saffron thus obtained in warm water for a few minutes until its active ingredients dissolve in the solution, then add it at the end of the cooking
The threads are the proof of saffron purity, but who have never used them can have two kinds of doubts:
1) how many threads can I use? We suggest you to use about 8 threads per person, but after a little practice you will be able to proceed by sight...
2) how can I use them in my cooking? To have a perfect mix, it is better to powder the saffron through a simple and short toasting: arrange the threads you need on a spoon, then put the spoon above the low flame of the gas cooker for about 25 seconds; thus toasted, wrap them in a piece of cooking paper and crush them hard by using the bottom of a glass until you get a fine powder.
glass jars
0.25 gs / 0.50 gs /
1.00 g
5 grams glass jar
5.00 gs
craftmade earthenware jars
0.25 gs / 0.50 gs
'sea urchin' jar
0.50 gs
All our packagings are simple, because it is really our intention to respect, at an aesthetical level too, the genuineness of our saffron, that is devoid of any kind of sophistication.
We package saffron both in a basic way, like the glass jar (with the threads in good sight and more suitable for home cooking), or to make a gift, like the decorated ceramic or brown ancient craftmade earthenware and the "sea urchin" ceramic jar, for those who wish to gratify their eyes as well as their taste and sense of smell.