The origin of saffron
The origin of saffron is still not established, but it is thought that originates from the soil of Asia. It is believed that saffron was grown in Mesopotamia even before the 5 000 years, and India is the first country which started to use saffron as a spice in the kitchen.
In ancient Egypt, saffron specially purchased for Cleopatra, which used it to darken the skin. In Rome, saffron was used as a decoration for weddings and celebrations. The old Phoenicians are used saffron in the treatment, while the alchemists used saffron for the production of gold, which was not real gold, but due to a late yellow color of saffron and its rarity, it could be sold as gold.
Thanks to medicinal properties, saffron was used to treat spasms and pain in the stomach, as a cure for hepatitis, in healing of small and big pox. Saffron is mostly used as a sedative, tranquilizer and calming nerves cramps.
Basic characteristics of saffron
Saffron (Crocus sativus) is now designated as ‘’red gold’’, because it is one of the most expensive spice in the world. The reason for the high price of saffron in the market is the fact that saffron comes from plants which flower only three weeks.
The process of harvesting and processing saffron flowers is very difficult and demanding. As a spice and medicinal part of the saffron are used pestles, better say reddish fibers that are at the top of the pestle. Each flower of saffron owns three pistil, which justifies the fact that for 1 kg of dried saffron should be collected to 150 000 flowers!
Picking flowers (Pestles) is done in the fall, when flowers are wide and pestles are available for manipulation. Pestles are carefully picked and then dried over the hot ashes or over the red-hot charcoal.
In sale, the saffron is in the form of reddish - orange fibers or milled into a powder of the same color. When the saffron dissolved in water it changes color to yellow.
The taste of saffron is very aromatic, spicy, bitter but still plant based. Some say it resembles the taste of saffron combination of honey, musk and chilli paprika.
Once in ancient times, saffron was used for medicinal purposes and for dyeing fabrics, as are sufficient very small quantities of saffron to dye food or fabric to a golden yellow color.
Today, saffron widely used as a spice in cooking, because it gives the dishes a nice yellow color and aromatic, bitter taste.
Nutritional composition of saffron
1 teaspoon saffron contains:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B9
Health Benefits of saffron
1. Saffron leaflets depression
Saffron in the form of tea has been used in ancient times as well as today as a natural antidepressant. According to the structure of antidepressant substances contained, saffron can compete with the powerful pharmaceutical antidepressants.
Studies have shown that in the Saffron are substances that may encourage secretion of serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood, mental alertness and sleep and feel lucky contributions.
2. Saffron eliminates migraine headaches and dizziness
3. It regulates the level of cholesterol in the blood and prevents the emergence of heart disease
4. Improves circulation, removes arrhythmia and the presence of vitamin B2 affects the formation of red blood cells
5. Saffron is a good diuretic and is used for centuries as a medicine for kidney disease
6. Improves eyesight and prevents the onset of reduced quality of vision in the elderly
7. Saffron should use women who suffer from premenstrual symptoms or have cramps in the stomach
8. Immune stimulator and anti aging factor - Saffron contains a lot of antioxidants, which prevent cell aging
9. For the saffron is considered to possess anti-cancer properties and, thanks to the presence of substances of essential oil of saffron
10. Saffron regulates digestion and eliminates bloating and cramps in stomach
Although studies have shown great therapeutic properties of saffron, it is recommended to take only in small amounts - up to 200 mg daily.
For more than five grams, saffron can causing ailments such as feeling sick, vomiting, until serious complications. Keeping all this in mind, herbalists remove use of saffron from the application in the treatment of children and the elderly.
Important: Pregnant women must not use the saffron!
How is preserved saffron?
Saffron in sales is packed in hermetic bags transparent and its price is relatively high. Price reflects the highest quality of saffron, because in the sale can be find forgery of saffron, as is the case with the Indian turmeric, which possesses similar to saffron yellow color, but again it is not a real genuine saffron.
To avoid fraud, we should remember that the real saffron is not cheap, and it has a distinct flavor that immediately strikes the nose, or the moment when you open the bag. And finally, whether it is ground or in the fiber, saffron has an intense reddish color without any impurity.
It is kept in a closed container in a dark, cool place; a shelf life of saffron is three years from the date of packaging.