Re: RE: [Histonet] Re: Safran du Gatinais

From:John Kiernan

Crocus sativus needs a warm climate such as the Mediterranean or California. It's stated to be hardy in N. American Zones 6-7. Only the stigma contains the saffron carotenoids - about 5mg per flower, so you=27ll need to grow a lot of them. I don't know whether the ordinary garden crocuses of cooler climes contain enough saffron in their stigmas to be worth bothering with. 

John Kiernan
London, Canada
----- Original Message -----
From: patsy ruegg 
Date: Sunday, August 19, 2007 17:04
Subject: RE: [Histonet] Re: Safran du Gatinais

> Being a gardener myself, I was wondering why we don't just grow 
> some of our
> own Crocus plants, or is the common Crocus plant not the same 
> plant that
> produces the Saffron from India these days, or perhaps you would 
> have to
> grow so much of it to yield enough of the stigmas??????  I 
> know Crocus grows
> in Colorado, even higher than I, I once saw a huge yard full of Crocus
> plants in Aspen, CO at the end of the summer, of course it would 
> die off
> during the winter. Is my 5 acres in Colorado big enough, maybe I 
> can grow
> Crocus as my cash crop?  When I lived in California I had a 
> house full of
> Crocus plants, they are very common there.
> Best regards,
> Patsy
> Patsy Ruegg, HT(ASCP)QIHC
> IHCtech
> 12635 Montview Blvd. #216
> Aurora, CO 80010
> 720-859-4060
> fax 720-859-4110
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of
> Sent: Sunday, August 19, 2007 2:40 PM
> To:
> Subject: [Histonet] Re: Safran du Gatinais
>  Lynne Cates in Durham NC asks about buying saffron in bulk 
> for histologic
> use.
> Saffron, a culinary spice and coloring agent most familiarly 
> used in paella,
> consists of the stigmas of the flowers of Crocus sativus. The 
> spice has a
> very strong odor, and also contains a dye of some histologic interest.
> Because of its labor-intensive production (do YOU want to spend 
> your days
> picking the sex organs out of itty bitty flowers?) saffron's extremely
> expensive.
> Saffron is used histologically as a connective tissue stain, 
> traditionallyin one of the many techniques attributed to Dr. 
> Masson, and in the Movat
> pentachrome stain. It dyes collagen a yellow-orange color that 
> contrastssubtly with eosin. 
> Saffron has a Colour Index number (75100) and is described in 
> the 9th
> edition (I don't have the 10th) of Conn's Biological stains. The 
> activecoloring matter is called crocin, composed of crocetin and 
> gentobiose.
> To prepare the stain, the dye is extracted from the crude spice with
> ethanol. Because saffron is so expensive, the WHO tumor 
> fascicles (in the
> 1960's) suggested extracting the dye into ethanol using a reflux 
> condenserto achieve maximum yield. This alcohol extract has an 
> obnoxious medicinal
> smell. 
> A look-alike, safflower (Carthamus tinctorius), sometimes called 
> dyer'ssaffron or bastard saffron, is odorless and contains a 
> different dye,
> carthamin or carthamone, chemically unrelated. I have never seen 
> safflowerreferred to as a histologic stain. Safflower is 
> sometimes referred to as
> saffron, and I'd be careful not to buy it for histologic use - 
> remember it's
> odorless. (Safflower is grown commercially as an oil seed.)
> Saffron was historically grown in France and Spain. It is still grown
> commercially in Spain, but most of it is grown in India. The 
> traditionalhistologic designation "safran du Gātinais" referred 
> to the French product,
> which I think is no longer available. (Saffron was grown in England
> centuries ago, hence the place name Saffron Walden.)
> I checked a high-end spice dealer, Penzeys Spices (disclaimer - 
> my wife
> orders a box of spices from them about once a month), and found 
> saffron for
> US$10 to 15 a gram, retailed in gram quantities, depending on 
> the source. I
> suspect it could be ordered from India, perhaps through an 
> Indian grocery
> store, for less, but I'd want to be awfully careful I was 
> getting Crocus
> sativus. Apparently lower grades of saffron can be bought in 
> bulk for a
> dollar or two a gram.
> The Wikipedia article on saffron is worth reading.
> According to Wikipedia the coat of arms of Saffron Walden is 
> "Vert within a
> representation of town walls having two towers and a Gateway 
> between towers
> Argent three Saffron Flowers issuant from the battlements of the 
> gatewayblown and showing the stamens proper And for the Crest On 
> a Wealth of the
> Colours Upon a Chapeau Gules turned up Ermine a Lion rampant 
> Azure grasping
> in the dexter paw a representation of the Ancient Mace of the 
> Borough of
> Saffron Walden proper."
> Bob Richmond
> Samurai Pathologist, histoantiquarian and occasional blazoner wannabe
> Knoxville TN
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