What is Saffron?
Coming from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus, it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the world’s most expensive spice.
Smell: Strongly perfumed, with an aroma of honey
Flavour: A pungent bitter-honey taste
Hotness Scale: 0
Because of its expense, intense flavour, and strong dying properties, very little saffron is required for culinary purposes and the key is to distribute it evenly throughout the dish being prepared. It can be crushed to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. It is easier however, to steep the saffron in hot water— a pinch to a cup will create the desired flavour and colour. Good saffron should expand on contact with the water and a cup should be sufficient for 0.5 kg (1 lb) of rice. Powdered saffron is added directly to the required ingredients of a dish, though we recommend against buying saffron powdered, as it is so frequently adulterated. Store in a cool dry place, out of the light.
Substitute for saffron
Use turmeric for color, not flavor or Safflower can also be used to impart similar color, but taste is decidedly inferior. Marigold blossoms, again for color, not flavor. Annatto seeds can also be used for color. Steep 1 teaspoon annatto seeds in 1/4 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes, discard seeds. Reduce liquid in recipe by 1/4 cup.
Health Benefits of Saffron
Saffron contains plant-derived compounds known to have anti-oxidant, disease-preventing and health-promoting properties. Saffron threads have essential volatile oils but the most important is safranal, which gives saffron its distinct hay-like flavor. Other saffron oils include: cineole, phenethenol, pinene, borneol, geraniol, limonene, p-cymene, linalool, terpinen-4-oil.
It has many non-volatile active components, including α-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the stigmas their characteristic golden yellow color. It also contains other carotenoids including zeaxanthin, lycopene, α- and β-carotenes. These are important antioxidants that helps protect body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers, infections and acts as immune modulators. The active components have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-oxidant, digestive, anti-convulsant.
Saffron is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production.
Alicante Saffron, Autumn Crocus, Crocus, Gatinais Saffron, Hay Saffron Karcom, Stima Croci, Zaffer
Indian: kesa, kesram, khesa, zafran
What is Saffron?