History of saffron
It’s not clear in history where saffron was first grown, or who was the first nation to use the spice, and it has been suggested that it may have been discovered in Iran where 85% of the worlds saffron is grown or Mesopotamia/Greece. From here it was cultivated from and grown in England, India, Spain, Italy, Austria, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Depicted in images in Santorini in Greece – that may date back to 16th century BC or 3000 BC – the first historical images show the use of the spice as a medicine. Cave paintings have been found in Persia and cultivation began in Derbena and Isfahan in the 10th century BC.
Traded by Egyptians, Arabs, Romans, Europeans and Asians, due to its lucrative price, saffron traders were known as ‘saffron grocers’.
Due to the price of saffron, it was widely traded and smuggled & in the 14th century a Saffron War occurred during the Bubonic Plague!
With so much activity in trading and fraudulent saffron being created, the Safranschou code was created by the Nuremburg authorities and death by fire was introduced as one of the heavier punishments for not providing purity in the spice!
Supposedly smuggled over to England in a hollow staff in the 14th century and traded for tin by Cornish traders, it was grown in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, with Market Walden changing its name to Saffron Walden!