It is called "red gold" ─ a plant of gods, kings and heroes (for example, in the myths of Ancient Greece, Zeus slept on a bed of saffron). Mentions of saffron can be found in the ancient Egyptian Papyrus of Ebers and in the Old Testament Song of Solomon. This intensely colored spice with a pronounced aroma has been appreciated since ancient times and is still quite expensive. However, today not everyone knows how “red gold” can change the taste of familiar dishes and help fight a number of diseases. We figure out how to properly use the spice about which the legends were made.
Saffron has been known since ancient times: the Greeks and Romans were fond of it both as seasoning and as incense, and from the middle of the 16th century, the plant began to be often used in Chinese pharmacology. Saffron is considered the birthplace of the Mediterranean region, Asia Minor (part of modern Turkey) and Iran. Currently, it is mainly cultivated in Spain, France, Italy and Turkey, but according to some reports, about 90% of the world's crop is grown in Iran.
Saffron spice is a bright yellow with red thread, with a sweetish odor and a bitter spicy taste. These threads are the stigmas of flowers called Crocus sativus ─ Sowing saffron. Saffron blooms only once a year, and collecting flowers is a laborious process. One flower gives only three stigmas, and it is not surprising that the cost of a kilogram of spice often exceeds $ 1000 (in 2014, the price of saffron from Iran reached $ 2000).
- In Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, saffron is often used as an antispasmodic, stimulant of blood circulation and metabolism. Saffron tea is known to help with atherosclerosis, flatulence and certain intestinal disorders.
- Since ancient times, saffron has been known as an aphrodisiac. In addition, women can remember about him with painful symptoms of PMS, and men - with problems of premature ejaculation.
- In cosmetology, saffron infusion is used as a remedy for removing irritation of dry skin, as well as for baldness. By the way, Cleopatra and the soldiers of Alexander the Great liked saffron baths very much.
- Since ancient times, saffron has been known as an antidepressant. It was also used as a sedative for children: doctors prescribed saffron to babies even for coughs and intestinal colic. "Saffron will give fun and good blood" - these words are attributed to the famous doctor of the Middle Ages Paracelsus.
How to choose and store
It is better to buy saffron in small portions so that it does not get stale. The best is the spice from Spain and Kashmir. Store the spice in a cool, dry and dark place. In the freezer, saffron threads can be stored for up to 12 months!
At one time, Paracelsus deduced the following rule: “Everything is poison and everything is medicine; both are determined by the dose. " This rule goes very well with saffron. 5 grams of "red gold" produce an intoxicating effect on the body, and 12 grams can even kill. As a spice, saffron should be used sparingly and completely abandoned during pregnancy. Care should be taken to eat saffron dishes for hypertensive and diabetics.
Today saffron is one of the favorite spices of oriental and European chefs. It is added to French bouillabaisse, Spanish paella, Moroccan tagine and many other dishes. Some culinary experts advise making an elixir from saffron (crush 2 tsp spices in a mortar with a lump of sugar or a pinch of coarse salt, pour 90-100 ml of warm water and let it brew), which is convenient to use as a dressing ─ add to paella, rice, dough and desserts.
3 savory saffron recipes
Photo: Getty Images
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