Saffron has long been deservedly called “golden” spice, as it is one of the rarest and most expensive spices in the world. Since ancient times, saffron has been equated at the price of gold, it was presented as a luxurious gift to regal persons, tribute was paid with spice, and clothes painted with saffron were considered a sign of unprecedented luxury. Modern archaeologists still find the objects of painting, made with saffron.
Saffron was sung in poems and legends, and even Hippocrates himself noted its beneficial properties. There is a belief that once upon a time there lived a beautiful young man named Saffron, who dared to anger the omnipotent gods with something, and they turned him into a no less beautiful flower. According to Buddhist tradition, saffron was brought to earth from heaven.
Like it or not, saffron is really a very beautiful tender lilac flower, from which one of the most expensive spices in the world is made. The flowers themselves are interesting because they do not have a stem, and they grow straight from the bulb. The spice is prepared from the stigmas of the flower, and since the flowering time of this almost unearthly creature is only three days, it is necessary to catch all the stigmas at this time. All work is done exclusively by hand, the collected flowers are laid out on the table and from them, again by hand, the stigmas are removed. Then the stigma is dried, and the seasoning is ready. In order to get one gram of spice, it is necessary to harvest and process about 150 flowers. The work is laborious, laborious, and therefore the price of saffron simply can not be cheap. Unfortunately, saffron is very often forged, you can buy real spice only in a specialized shop and not in the form of powder, but in the form of fibers. But there is one consolation - saffron is very economical. Only one gram of spice contains about four hundred floral stigmas, and for cooking one large dish only 10-15 things will be enough. For coloring two liters of water, only two stigmas are enough.
Saffron in medicine
Since ancient times, saffron has been highly valued in medicine because of its high content of carotenes, essential oils and vitamins. Over four thousand years of use, the plant's effectiveness in treating about 90 different diseases has been discovered.
Stigmas of plants are part of the drugs against cough and whooping cough, used to treat oncology, respiratory and bladder. Saffron has a beneficial effect on the body as a whole, normalizes the immune system, revitalizes and improves the color of the skin.
It is impossible to imagine Tibetan medicine without saffron - the spice is considered the most valuable and indispensable component. No Tibetan incense is made without saffron. Substance serotonin contained in the plant, also called hormone of joy.
In folk medicine, saffron is used as an analgesic and antipyretic agent, as well as diaphoretic and diuretic, improves metabolism.
Saffron in cooking
The spice itself has a strong, intoxicating aroma and a bitter-spicy taste with a hint of honey. Saffron does not fit well with other spices, and its price is too high to fill the taste with anything else. You can't add a lot of it, otherwise the dish will be very bitter, and in large quantities saffron can become a deadly poison. The rate of consumption of saffron - no more than 1 gram per day, exceed this rate is dangerous to health. If it seemed to you that when spice was added to a dish, it didn’t reveal its flavor enough and you want to add more, stop! The taste of the spice is revealed in about 12 hours, and ideally in a day. Yes, this is the essence of this exotic princess. If at least a little to go too far with the dosage, any dish is obtained with a steady aroma of pharmaceutical herbs.
To optimize the valuation of saffron dissolved in water or alcohol-containing mixture - it is much easier to measure the right amount of seasoning. Prepare water or alcohol tincture as follows: 1 gram of flower stigmas or powder pour 120 ml of warm water or alcohol-containing liquid. After 15-20 minutes, the mixture can be added to the dishes. If saffron is poured with alcohol, the mixture should be further diluted with water.
Saffron has received the greatest use in the confectionery industry. It is often added to cakes, cookies and various pastries, and creams, jams and mousses get a unique light aroma and spicy taste. In the dough, the spice is added in the batch, and in hot dishes 5 minutes before being cooked.
The word saffron is translated as “yellow”, so it is often used as a natural food coloring — it gives the dishes a soft golden color. Spice found active use in the preparation of various alcoholic beverages - as a natural dye and flavoring.
In the East, saffron is an indispensable component for cooking meat dishes, various sauces and gravy. Also, the spice is added to rice, vegetable stews and dishes of valuable varieties of fish. In Europe, saffron is used in almost all dishes of high cuisine - paella, various soups and delicious desserts, sea delicacies and vegetarian dishes simply cannot do without this king-spice.
And finally, I would like to say that saffron can turn the simplest dishes into a culinary masterpiece, but the main rule in its application is moderation and moderation again, otherwise, instead of a unique taste, only bitterness will turn out, both in the direct and in the figurative sense of the word . Enjoy your meal!