Practically each housewife adds some spice and seasoning in the course of preparation of various dishes. In shops at your choice offer huge amount of spices which will be able to impact unique aroma and relish to food. In this article we will tell you about unique east spice a saffron. It is collected exclusively manually at dawn, and the price for 100 g can reach $1500.
It is more than information on that from where the saffron is and in what its uniqueness, you learn, having read our article.
Appearance and description
The saffron (Latin name Crocus) is a bulbous plant which height seldom exceeds 10 cm. The flower can have 5 cm a diameter, its coloring is very different — monophonic, two-ton, in a speck, with strips and a contrast network on petals. On each tsvetonos 6 petals reaching for the sun are located. Narrow leaves, strelopodobny, continue to grow even after the flower fades.
The saffron won the greatest popularity as spice and the painting pigment. Only snouts at flowers which gather exclusively manually in certain time — the first hours after sunrise are suitable for these purposes. At what the flower blossoms only if in the sky cloudlets.
Whether you know? People of antique times applied a saffron as powerful aphrodisiac. Historians tell that in order that the forthcoming night of love was special, the Egyptian queen Cleopatra took a bath with saffron petals.
History of origin
The homeland of a saffron it is considered to be the countries of the Middle East and India. However over time people learned to grow up it practically in every spot on the globe with suitable climate. At the moment it is possible to allocate 3 supplying countries which take the leading positions in the world market:
- Spain — delivers crocuses of expensive grades of Superior and Coupe.
- Iran — delivers more than 80% of world volumes in the market. The Iranian crocuses are considered as the most inexpensive, and their painting pigments — the brightest. Profit on export deliveries of crocuses to the global market — one of the main income items of the budget of the country.
- India — the Indian climate is considered the most suitable for cultivation of spice, and ancient traditions of preparation and sorting of a saffron guarantee quality of the delivered raw materials.
This spice by right is considered the most ancient of spices. The very first mentions of use of a saffron belong to 1700 BC. Archeologists found frescos on which scenes from life of the Aegean people were represented. Special attention was paid to the images of women reaping a crop of flowers of a crocus.
Also as seasoning use an anisetree, devyasit, mint, a celery, black caraway seeds, a coriander, a wormwood bitter, a fenugreek, rosemary, a thyme and kumin.
Numerous mentions about uses of flowers of a crocus in everyday life can be met at ancient Egyptians, shumer, Phoenicians and Romans. In China there were many admirers of this spice too — on the territory of this country the saffron got thanks to the dealers following on the Great silk way in search of new goods for the emperor. Inhabitants of Europe learned about miracle flowers of a crocus in the period of Crusades. Having got on a table to kings and other representatives of a noble family, saffron-yellow spice became a symbol of wealth and the power at once.
Some scientists assume that even in the Stone Age the rock painting became by means of natural dyes on the basis of ochre and a saffron.
As grow up
Cultivation and collecting a saffron — difficult process. First of all it is explained by special requirements of a plant to structure of the soil and level of humidity. The most suitable climate for cultivation of this kind of crocuses — Mediterranean. Annual rainfall has to be not less than 1500 mm. If the droughty season drops out, then saffron-yellow fields surely need additional irrigation.
Without sufficient lighting at a plant growth and blossoming slows down therefore for landing choose open sites, it is preferred as the southern slopes with the limy and trained soil. The soil before landing is fertilized by organic additives. Cultivation of a saffron on one place leads more than 3 years to soil exhaustion therefore at an interval of several years the spicy grass is replaced.
Further growth of crocuses on the site does not demand a special care — the plant is unpretentious and capable to sustain temperature differences and even snow. — to protect one of the most important requirements to cultivation of a saffron before its collecting from wreckers. Rodents, wild hares and even birds like to regale on rare spice.
Important! Suppliers of the real saffron always have available documents confirming quality and authenticity of spice.
The blossoming period when it is possible to collect red stamens — all a couple of hours at dawn, during this time flowers are accurately picked manually and carefully transferred to further processing. Later the dried-up color of a saffron is waited by long travel worldwide to restaurants, cafe, the retail markets and to other fans of red powder.
In the world contain about one hundred types of a saffron. Periodically lists and classifications of a spicy plant are rewritten. The last classification of types belongs to the botanist Brian Mathew who divided a sort Saffron-yellow into the following types and subspecies:
- Crocus. It, in turn, is divided into Crocus and Nudiscapus.
- Crociris. This look includes only one representative — Crocus Banaticus.
We suggest you to examine classification of crocuses by time of their blossoming:
The grades blossoming in the spring:
- Spring crocus. Grows on the Alpine meadows. In height — 15–17 cm. Flowers of white, light pink shades, sometimes on petals are shown contrast streaks. Blossoming begins with the middle of April and lasts prior to the beginning of May.
- Geyfel's crocus. Grows on slopes in Western Europe. Flower height — 12 cm, flowers large, up to 8 cm in the diameter. Flowers have a violet shade. The blossoming period — since the beginning of April and until the end of a month.
- Yellow crocus. A sort from the Balkans. In height reaches 20 cm, flowers bright yellow, with contrast streaks. Blossoming occurs in April and not less than 20 days last.
- Tomazini's crocus. It is possible to meet him on meadows in Hungary and Yugoslavia. Petals have light pink and lilac coloring. Blossoming begins at the end of March and lasts to the middle of April.
- Suziatsky crocus. In the nature he can be met on slopes of the mountain Crimea, Central Asia and the Balkans. Plant height seldom exceeds 15 cm, blossoming lasts all spring, petals pale yellow, with a bright yellow spot at their basis.
The grades blossoming in the fall:
- Fine crocus. This look can be met on hillsides in the Crimea, in the Caucasus and the Balkans. Plant height — no more than 10 cm, flowers of violet color with crimson strips on petals. Blossoming begins at the beginning of September and lasts until the end of a month.
- Banat crocus. Lives in the territory between Romania and the Balkan countries. Its height — 10 cm, petals of lilac color. Blossoming begins in September and 20 days last.
- Sowing crocus. A sort from India and the countries of Asia Minor. Petals of pale violet color, are dismissed at the end of September and no more than 14 days blossom.
Whether you know? In the city of Konsuegro (Spain) more than 50 years hold a saffron festival. Locals and tourists of the city participate in numerous competitions on knowledge of secrets of production of this spice and also attend excursions to saffron-yellow plantations.
How to choose spice
Many equate saffron cost to gold cost. To meet a fake of this orange spice in the market — as easy as shelling pears. We will tell you what it is necessary to pay attention upon purchase of a saffron to:
- If you buy spice in the processed look — the simple experiment with water will give the answer about origin of powder at once. It is enough to throw several grains of the real saffron into water, and the saturated red trace will try to keep step with them. If you throw a fake into water — at best water will be yellow.
- If you chose spice in the form of stamens — pay attention to their basis, there should be no yellow legs or other foreign spots. And if to throw them into water — that they have to go to a bottom.
- The smell plays an important role in the choice of noble spice too — you have to feel saturated aroma with honey slightly bitter taste. And it can be smelled even through tight packing.
- Choose the checked sellers and reliable places of trade.
- Remember that for low cost you will buy at best a colored turmeric.
- Whenever possible look for in the markets and in shops a saffron in the dried-up look — in the form of stamens, to forge them very difficult.
Chemical composition and caloric content
The chemical composition of crimson spice is very different. For example, substance pikrokrotsin — it is responsible for bitter taste and aroma of a saffron. Besides it contain in flowers:
- essential oils,
- natural dyes.
From vitamins and minerals it should be noted the high content of iron, a riboflamin, carotene, thiamine, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Such rich set of useful substances has low caloric content — only 31 kcal on 10 g of a product.
Important! Excessive consumption of this spice can lead to intoxication, and in certain cases — by death. Having eaten 10 g of a saffron, you will put the organism on serious trials.
Medicinal properties, action on an organism
Here not all list of diseases and violations in work of internals of the person which are treated by a saffron:
- cardiovascular diseases;
- frustration in work of digestive tract;
- erectile dysfunction at men;
- organism zashlakovannost;
- diseases of urinary tract;
- muscular spasms;
Crimson spice renders on an organism powerful rejuvenating and the cleaning action and also promotes the strengthened growth of cages. Also original saffron has exciting effect on a human body therefore many use it as aphrodisiac.
Activity of digestive tract is normalized also by such herbs as a marjoram, a wormwood bitter and a hyssop medicinal.
Unique spice, for the many thousands history of use by the person, worthy application is found in many industries. We will tell you about it in more detail.
The creams incorporating a saffron possess rejuvenating, regenerating and clarifying properties. This spice can often be met as a part of shampoos and masks for hair.
In cosmetology to the purposes also use a cornel, a linden, a lime, a feijoa, mango, unab, a uterine milk, a macadamia, a motherwort, a horsetail field and to a turn.
Thanks to the rich tastes and ability to coloring the saffron is on the special account at culinary specialists. It is used for preparation of meat and vegetable dishes, soups, numerous rice dishes and also it is a part of many sauces and gravies.
Did not avoid it and by production of confectionery — fancy pastry, additives in rolls, sherbets and pies, custards generously season with a saffron, especially in the countries of East Asia. Recipes of tea and coffee with this spice in the east enjoy special popularity. The saffron is applied as dye in butter, liqueurs, compotes and cheeses.
East medicine applies saffron flowers to treatment of various diseases not one thousand years. With its help cataracts and other eye diseases, depressions and diseases of airways treat. Also its spicy aroma is often used in an aromatherapy.
Also in modern medicine researches according to which this flower helps to cure patients of some oncological diseases were conducted.
Each seasoning can be medicine, study as apply nutmeg, parsley, fennel, cinnamon, ginger, a curry, horse-radish, garlic, onions, mustard, a fenugreek, a carnation.
In spite of the fact that the saffron is the real well of vitamins and minerals, its use is authorized not to each person. To reduce its quantity in dishes or at all it is necessary to refuse it in the following cases:
- individual intolerance;
- pregnancy and period of a lactation;
- age up to 3 years;
The use of 1-1.5 g a year is considered harmless. Be not frightened such small figure — to any dish or tincture it is added all steam of stamens of this flower.
As apply a saffron in traditional medicine
We suggest you to study some recipes of traditional medicine in which the saffron occurs:
- Treatment of a cataract and other eye diseases. It will be necessary for medicine preparation for you: 5 stamens of spice or handful of powder, pink water. To mix a saffron with pink water in equal proportions and to daily wipe eyes.
- Treatment of a renal failure. 50 saffron-yellow stamens add to 100 g of the melted honey. The received mix is mixed and eaten on an empty stomach on a teaspoon.
- Moistening and rejuvenation of skin. It will be necessary for you: saffron, honey, sour cream. All ingredients mix up in equal proportions (for example, on 1 teaspoon) and are put on a face and a zone of a decollete. In 20 minutes to wash away mix warm water.
- General strengthening of an organism and prevention of diseases. 10 stamens fill in with a glass of water and put on weak fire. After boiling of water add two more glasses of water to a teapot and wait for repeated boiling. I drink the received saffron-yellow water on a glass on an empty stomach. The made stamens are suitable la of the subsequent use.
Now you know that the saffron is called not for nothing the king of spices. Let information in this article will help you to choose the real spice which will become the real pearl of your table.