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There is an intrinsic value to rare things, and these terms are usually associated with metals and gemstones. Yet there is a spice whose value can rival that of gold – Saffron.

The crimson stigmas from a Crocus flower are what is called saffron. Each flower blooms for only one week a year and yields only a few stigmas – usually three – which are hand picked, stacked and left to dry.

It is estimated that it takes over 200,000 stigmas – 40 hours of picking – to make a pound. Couple the low yield per flower, picky climate conditions for growing, and a manually intensive harvesting process, and you get one of the most expensive spices in the world. Depending on its quality grade, saffron can retail for around $120.00 per ounce.

Saffron is graded via laboratory measurement of crocin (colour), picrocrocin (taste), and safranal (fragrance) content, with four empirical colour intensity grades: IV (poorest), III, II, and I (finest quality). Graders measure absorbances of 440-nm light by dry saffron samples. Higher absorbances imply greater crocin concentration, and thus a greater colourative intensity. These colour grades proceed from grades with absorbances lower than 80 (for all category IV saffron) up to 190 or greater (for category I). (

The largest producer of saffron is Iran, however, due to import and export restrictions Iranian saffron may be hard to find.  The second largest producer is Spain. Spanish saffron is divided into grades. Names to look for are coupe, superior, La Mancha, or Rio. Coupe is the top of the line: it has the least flavorless yellow stem and the highest amount of crocin, one of the key essential oils in saffron.

This spice is responsible for that distinctive bright yellow color of Italian risotto milanese, French bouillabaisse, Spanish paella, and Indian biryanis. It also has a very subtle flavor and aroma – somewhat spicy, somewhat floral. Like truffles, some people find saffron completely intoxicating and addictive.

For general cooking, it’s best to add saffron early on in cooking so its flavor can infuse into the other ingredients. If there’s water already in the pan, just crumble in the threads. Otherwise soak them in a tablespoon of water for ten minutes before adding to the pan.(

Saffron is also used as a dye, medicinal purposes and has been touted by Dr. Oz as an appetite suppressant.

According to Dr. Oz, Saffron extract can increase satisfaction in one’s appetite quicker while decreasing stress hormones and improving emotional health for more long term results and stability. (

Throughout history, saffron uses against cancer and depressive mood can regularly be identified. These applications have also been in the focus of modern research. Promising and selective anti-cancer effects have been observed. Saffron extract or its active constituents, crocetin and crocin, may also be useful as a treatment for neurodegenerative disorders accompanying memory impairment.(,,

Saffron has also been shown to improve digestion and ease respiratory problems, has anti-inflammatory properties, and help boost the immune system. (


Green Mango & Saffron Smoothie

saffron - green mango saffron smoothie


  • 2 Unripe Green Mangoes (Peeled, Pitted & Diced)
  • 2 Cups of Water
  • 1/4 cup of Agave Nectar or Sugar
  • 2 Cups of Cold 2% Milk
  • 8-10 Saffron Threads soaked in 2 tbsp of warm milk for 30 minutes (also additional Saffron threads for garnish)


In a Saucepan, Bring the Mango cubes & water to a simmer and cook on medium heat until Mangoes soften up. Add Agave Nectar or Sugar & stir. Chill this mixture for about 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. Before serving, In a Blender add cold 2% Milk, Chilled Mango mixture & Saffron Milk. Blend it for a minute or so until smoothie.  Pour into a tall glass & garnish with Saffron threads. Enjoy!



About MatchaGT by ShelleRae

Welcome! I am ShelleRae and I am very excited you are here. I joined the Smoothie Essentials team about 5 years ago now. Always health conscious and into prevention versus medication it seemed natural when the opportunity came up to take on the creation of this blog and the Smoothie Essentials blog as well. As mother to three and surrogate to many more I've practiced much of what I write on sometimes with great success and other times with a bit less. My friends and family are my test kitchen and my facts are most often from WebMD - they seem to have a fairly accurate and conservative approach. MatchaGT – the super premium Matcha Green Tea Introducing Matcha GT, the super premium Matcha Green Tea. Matcha GT is nature’s natural source of energy and antioxidants. Used for centuries in Japanese tea ceremonies, Matcha provides a powerful pick-me-up plus antioxidants and other health benefits to keep the body, mind and spirit in perfect balance. While many forms of green tea are strained or brewed, Matcha GT uses the whole tea leaf providing the full benefits and bold taste of whole green tea powder. My inspiration comes from others who also are striving to live a better life through lifestyle changes. More information is available at or by emailing Benefits: Natural Caffeine – longer lasting energy Antioxidants – to fight cancer causing free radicals Chlorophyll – powerful blood cleanse Coffee concepts and juice bars across North America including Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Smoothie King, and Booster Juice have recently started selling Matcha Green Tea smoothies, frappes, and lattes, promoting the great taste and health benefits of green tea.

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