Saffron has always been highly valued, this is due to the complexity of its cultivation and collection - 2 thousand flowers give only about 1 kilogram of spice. Before, only wealthy people could add saffron to dishes. In Europe, seasoning appeared approximately in the 9th century thanks to the Spaniards, and they learned about saffron from the Arabs. Enterprising merchants of the Middle Ages made fortunes on this spice. Those who, by hook or by crook, tried to fake saffron, using other plants or making it heavier, could pay with their lives - some of them were burned or buried alive. In some situations, unscrupulous traders were stripped of all property.
Saffron in cooking
Saffron is so versatile that it can be added to all dishes: cakes, cookies, cakes, ice cream, jelly, puddings, bread and fruit desserts. Jams, creams and saffron mousses will acquire a unique aroma. In some countries, saffron can be found in tea or coffee; many chefs add it for aroma and taste to cheeses and butter. The perfect flavor combination is rice and saffron, and in general, this spice is usually added to hot dishes of fish, meat, seafood, poultry, mushrooms and vegetables.
How to choose saffron
Saffron stigmas should be dark - this indicates its quality. It is better to refuse the powder version, since you can come across a fake. You do not need to buy a large amount of saffron at a time, because over time it dries, turns pale and loses its unique flavor.
For cooking, just a few veins of saffron are enough; in large doses, it can harm health. This spice is never combined with others, so on the shelves of the shops it is impossible to find a mix of seasonings with saffron in the composition. Saffron should be added to hot dishes 5 minutes before being cooked. To maximize its taste, you can fry the veins in a dry pan, and then grind into powder.
What is saffron
The plant grows ten centimeters in height. The culture consists of leaves and three flowers with orange stigmas on a pistil. Flowers grow directly from the bulb. Saffron blooms in the period from October to November, depending on the variety, may bloom in spring. Flowers can be white, orange, blue and purple. Fruits are capsules with small angular seeds.
In the natural environment there are no less than eighty species of this culture. Most of them are on the verge of extinction and are listed in the Red Book.
The most common varieties:
- Nigro fight
- Golden flowered
The reader should find out where ground saffron is added.
What is useful, how to use
Saffron is a spice that was used in ancient times. It was mentioned back in 1500 BC in Egyptian texts on medicine. In Chinese medicine, this plant was remembered as far back as 2600 BC, you can also find a description of this spice in the Old Testament.
Spice was used for:
- giving energy and love power,
- with cataract disease,
- as an antidote
- as incense to fight evil spirits.
Saffron was used in ancient times.
Saffron in those days was a great gift for high-ranking nobles. In addition, it was considered chic to wear things that were stained with saffron.
Homeland plants are:
Later, the plant migrated to Turkey and Greece. Later this plant was forgotten, only in the ninth and tenth century resumed the spice trade by the Arabs. Thus, the plant began to travel around the countries. First to Spain, then to France and Italy.
Now the plant grows in:
Only in the wild does this plant not grow. However, the spice is made only in India, Iran and Spain. Many are interested in how to use saffron.
Saffron is used in cooking, in perfumery, as a medicine, and also as a dye.
It should be noted! This is a very expensive spice, the cost is due to the fact that it is not easy to collect, since each flower has only three stigmas. In order to collect only half a kilogram of saffron, you will need to collect stigmas of 70,000, or even 250,000 flowers. The collection is carried out manually after the flower is fully opened.
What smells, what it tastes like
When buying a spice, you first need to pay attention to color and smell. Saffron has a pronounced red color, sometimes with an orange tint. They sell it in the form of powder or threads, which, in fact, are dried stigmas. So what smells saffron? The smell of the spice is very strong, slightly dope. The taste of saffron is bitter. Many are interested in how to use saffron and how to use it correctly.
To dye a liquid with a capacity of three liters, it will be enough to throw just two strings into it. The aroma is fully revealed during the cooking process and will not disappear even with prolonged cooking. In order for the spice to show the whole bouquet, it is best to pre-soak it in warm water or milk. When preparing meals, it is important to know what saffron is combined with. Adding spices gives the food an amazing flavor. It is best to use the alcohol tincture of this spice. Add it in liquid form to dishes a few drops.
The smell of the spice is very strong, slightly dope.
Saffron spice where can I add it? The stigmas of the flower are added to desserts prepared in milk for cream cakes, ice cream, mousses, jelly. In oriental cuisine, saffron is included in recipes for meat dishes, pilaf, seafood preparation, served with tea and coffee.
The most popular dish where saffron is added is risotto.
To prepare it you will need:
- two hundred and fifty grams of arborio,
- half a liter of water,
- two small spoons of lobster meat,
- two stigmas of saffron
- Red pepper,
- two garlic cloves
- two hundred and fifty grams of parmesan cheese,
- two hundred and fifty grams of basil,
To prepare the dish, first make a solution of water, saffron and lobster meat. Onions, garlic and pepper are fried in a pan, rice is added here. The mixture is poured with saffron liquid and Parmesan with basil is added.
For those who care about their health, pearl barley porridge is excellent, where saffron can also be added.
For its preparation you will need the following ingredients:
- Two hundred grams of pearl barley
- Two hundred grams of broth,
- A spoonful of vegetable oil,
For porridge, you need to prepare an oil extract:
- two tablespoons of vegetable oil,
- a pinch of allspice
- black pepper
- coriander and cilantro,
Pearl barley is moved, washed and soaked for 12 hours. After this, the water is drained, the cereal is washed and poured into the pan. For several minutes, barley is roasted and poured into boiling broth. The vegetable oil is heated in a pan and all seasonings are added there. A few minutes more fry and add to the porridge. Passion from onions and carrots is prepared separately. After the porridge is ready, add onions and carrots to it and continue to simmer over low heat for another five or six minutes.
Fans of oriental sweets are interested in how to soak saffron for praise. The recipe is pretty simple. A pinch of powder or filament stigmas should be poured with a small glass of boiling water and add a couple of drops of red beet juice.
Interesting! Turmeric is what saffron can be replaced with. This substitute is slightly cheaper, but has similar properties, smell and taste.
The healing properties of saffron
Saffron contains a large amount of vitamins and other beneficial substances. Therefore, you should know what saffron is used for, except for cooking.
Spice is used to treat such diseases:
- Whooping cough
- Alzheimer's disease
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Premature ejaculation
Spice is used to treat many diseases.
In addition, this plant for men is an excellent aphrodisiac.
After most of the experiments, its healing properties were proven in the following diseases:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Hypertrophy of the heart,
- Toxic liver damage,
- Colorectal cancer
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Erectile dysfunction
- Liver cancer
- Occlusion of the middle cerebral artery,
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pancreatic cancer
- Diseases of the respiratory system,
- Wound healing.
Important! For men, saffron will be a panacea during the hangover syndrome, since it is typical for it to remove the remnants of alcohol from the body.
Saffron has not only positive qualities. There are a number of contraindications for the use of this plant. The use of spices is contraindicated in children who are not yet twelve years old. Forbidden to women who are preparing to become a mother, and those who breastfeed. In addition, saffron is a toxic plant, it can not be eaten for more than one gram. An increased dose can be fatal and a person will die.
Saffron - Toxic Plant
The outlined prospects are not bright, but, nevertheless, this spice has been used for five thousand years, and it is still popular. Most likely, in the future saffron will occupy a top position among spices.
Saffron water is used in cosmetology. It has been used by women for many centuries. This substance is used in order to:
- relieve skin inflammation,
- remove fat secretions,
- clean pores
- moisturize the skin
- cleanse the skin from rashes,
- stop itching
- remove blackheads
- It has a tonic effect
- relieves eye fatigue.
In addition, saffron extract has a rejuvenating effect, because it narrows the pores and makes the skin supple. Therefore, it is applicable for the preparation of masks. It is especially important to use this tool for people who spend a lot of time at the computer. Using this substance makes your face fresh.
Saffron is considered the king of spices by right. It is successfully used in different directions. The only thing that upsets is the high cost. But, taking into account the useful qualities and the difficulty with which workers collect each stigma of a flower, the price fully justifies itself.
What spice is made of
In fact, saffron is the stigma of a well-known crocus flower, but only of a certain kind. Crocus is a bulbous plant about 15–20 cm high. It blooms for only two weeks during the entire flowering period, and two or three flowers grow in each bulb during this time.
The crocus flower has only three stigmas during flowering, which look like three thin strings. First, during the period of mass flowering, flowers are picked manually. Then they also process manually all the flowers collected per day on the same day, avoiding damage to precious raw materials. To get only 0.5 kg of the finished spice, you need to process and dry 75 thousand flowers. This explains the very high price of spices.
Places of growth
Saffron grows mainly in southern Europe, Iran, India, in the wild it is almost impossible to meet. The main supplier of saffron to the world market is Iran, it produces almost 90 percent of the total volume of saffron.
Saffron itself has an orange-red color, so it is often confused or replaced with cheaper spices of the same color. This is turmeric, marigold or safflower. The aroma of saffron is delicate with a floral tinge; its taste resembles that of fresh bitter mountain honey.
What saffron is valued for
First of all, for the unique healing properties and the incomparable aroma. Using only two or three strings of saffron in the preparation of the dish will give the dish a beautiful yellow color and aroma. As a rule, saffron is used in cooking either in powder form or in the form of dried stigmas themselves.
Highly skilled chefs prefer to use stigmas for their more persistent and aromatic smell and taste. Another reason for choosing stigmas is the high probability of buying low-quality powder. Unscrupulous manufacturers can add to the composition of spices not only low-grade raw materials, but also starch, dyes, flavors and other fillers that have nothing to do with spices.
Saffron is known all over the world, chefs in different corners of the globe use this spice in a wide variety of dishes. Saffron is often called the king of spices for the ability to give any dish a unique color and aroma. In addition, saffron plays the role of a kind of preservative, since a dish prepared with saffron can retain freshness for several days. In order for the spice to retain its qualities longer, it is necessary to observe the rules for its storage, namely:
- store in a tightly closed opaque container,
- choose a storage room with a temperature of no more than 20 degrees,
- for long-term storage, you can grind saffron into powder yourself or prepare tincture for alcohol in a ratio of 1:10.
When preparing a dish with saffron, first it is preliminarily prepared, for this saffron is lightly fried in a dry pan for several seconds. Then it is mixed with a teaspoon of water or milk, so that the aroma reveals more.
If a hot meal is being prepared, then saffron is best added 5 minutes before being cooked. When kneading dough for baking, spice must be added at the very beginning of the kneading to get a uniform golden color of the finished product.
Combination with other spices
The peculiarity of the spice is its poor palatability with other spices, so saffron is rarely part of spice mixtures and is mainly used as an independent ingredient.
There are many areas of application of saffron in cooking. These are soups and sauces, desserts, creams, ice cream, rice dishes (for example, risotto or pilaf), sweet pastries, marinades for fish dishes, various drinks, including liquors, and much more. Saffron can be an excellent substitute for artificial colors in confectionery, pastries, and drinks.
To prepare it you will need:
- 3 egg yolks,
- 0.5 cups of white wine,
- 2-3 stigmas of saffron,
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp. l olive oil,
- salt, sugar to taste.
Beat the yolks with white wine and saffron. Add chopped garlic and other ingredients. Once again, beat well. The resulting sauce is perfect for any fish in boiled or stewed form.
Stewed cabbage with chicken giblets
For cooking you need:
- 0.5 kg of chicken stomachs and hearts,
- head of cabbage,
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 onion,
- 2 cloves of garlic,
- 3-4 stigmas of saffron,
- vegetable oil,
Chicken giblets cut into large pieces and simmer in a small amount of water for 25 minutes. At this time, prepare and cut the vegetables. Add chopped onions and garlic, pepper and saffron to almost prepared giblets. Dip in a frying pan for 5-7 minutes, add cabbage, pour a glass of water or vegetable broth, salt and stew until cooked.
For cooking you need:
- 1.5 tbsp. flour
- 0.75 Art. granulated sugar or powder,
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp. l butter
- 1 tbsp. l cognac or rum
- 3-4 stigmas of saffron.
Beat the yolks with sugar, pour the saffron on cognac, let stand a little and add to the egg mixture. Beat everything up again.Add flour and soft butter to the mixture and knead uncooked dough. Divide the dough into small balls the size of a small plum, put them on a baking sheet previously greased with vegetable oil, and flatten each ball with a fork.
Bake in a preheated oven for 7–10 minutes. It will turn out very tasty cookies of a beautiful yellow-lemon color, the preparation of which took only 15 minutes.
For cooking you will need:
- 350 g of rice
- 1 medium onion,
- 100 g butter,
- 150 g of dry white wine,
- 800 ml. meat broth
- 100 g parmesan
- 3-4 stigmas of saffron,
- salt pepper.
Finely chop onions and fry in a pan until transparent, using half the butter. Add rice and simmer over low heat for two to three minutes. Pour white wine into the mixture and wait until it is absorbed into the rice. After this, gradually you need to start adding the broth. It is better to do this several times, adding a glass each time, waiting until the liquid is absorbed into the rice.
In the process of cooking, you must constantly stir the rice and check its degree of readiness, it should not be very boiled. Add saffron to the last portion of the broth. When the rice is ready, it is necessary to salt, pepper the dish to taste, add the grated cheese and the remaining half of the butter. Stir and let the dish soak for several minutes.
Tip 4: The history of saffron. Features of the application of culinary seasoning
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Once a pound of spices gave an Arabian horse. And today, dried stigmas of crocus are valued on a par with gold.
Currently, saffron is grown in Iran, Greece, Italy, France, USA, Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, Japan. The largest crocus plantations are in Spain. It is noted that residents of these countries, often using spices in cooking, are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases. Saffron also cleanses the kidneys and liver, improves digestion, relieves pain, increases potency, and helps relieve hangover.
To saffron gave the dish all the taste and aroma, it is recommended to first soak it in hot milk, broth or water and add an infusion of spices to the dish.
Saffron gives dishes a golden hue, delicate aroma and unusual taste. In many countries of the East, it is added to pastries and creams. Unlike many other spices, the properties of saffron do not disappear from long cooking. On the contrary, when baking, the aroma of spices increases on the next day. To give tonic properties, saffron is seasoned with tea, coffee and other soft drinks. Saffron easily helps bake meat, poultry or fish in the oven with a delicious golden crust. To do this, pour the saffron infusion 10-15 minutes before cooking.
Apples, dairy products, meat, almonds, pistachios, fish, crops, citrus fruits, cilantro, basil, thyme, cinnamon, garlic go well with spice. But combinations with turmeric and black pepper are best avoided.
It should be noted that saffron should be added to dishes with caution. In large quantities, this spice can be deadly. An overdose of spice often leads to severe excitement and poisoning of the human body. 1-2 strings will be enough for baking buns or cauldron of pilaf. If in any recipe it is advised to add a lot of spices, most likely they mean saffron substitute. It costs much less than the original, but does not possess useful qualities. It is not recommended to use dishes seasoned with stigmas of crocuses, along with alcohol. Otherwise, the state of intoxication will increase.
When choosing a spice, remember that Spanish saffron is most valued for its useful and tasteful properties. Italian has a very pungent smell. And Greek, Indian and Iranian - longer shelf life.
Buy saffron better from trusted sellers. Often, powder from marigolds or other plants is sold under the guise of this spice. The real spice is bright red or brown. The price should be wary - after all, real saffron is not cheap.