Saffron comes from the Crocus bulb but a very specific crocus called Crocus sativus or more commonly, the Saffron Crocus. Only the plant’s stigmas, the tiny shoots in the center of the flower, are used to make saffron and since the crocus only bears up to four flowers, it’s wildly expensive by weight. One staggering fact I learned was that in order to produce a single pound or 450 grams of Saffron you must harvest 50,000 to 70,000 flowers. Saffron has been cultivated in Greece since at least the 7th Century BC. It’s thought to be a great deal older than that, dating from the Bronze Age. Later it was traded in Eurasia and brought to parts of North Africa, North America and Oceania. Today Iran accounts for fully 90 percent of the world’s saffron production. Trader Joe’s Saffron is imported from Spain. The more vivid the crimson color of saffron threads, the better it is considered to be. It has a very subtle taste but it is prized for its color. If you can’t spring for Saffron, safflower, annatto and turmeric have all been pressed into service as culinary substitutes giving the saffron color if not the subtle hay-like sweetness the genuine article brings to your dish.