Saffron-“The Golden Spice”
Botanical name:Crocus sativus L
Saffron is often called’golden spice’.It gives a rich color and exquisite flavour. The dried spice is generally regarded as the most expensive spice.It is the dried stigma and style top of a plant.
1 kg of dry saffron needs 500,000 to 1000,000 stigmas and this gives an idea of the high cost involved.The plant grows to a low height of 15 to 30 cms with an underground globular bulb or corm. The fragrant flowers have orange coloured stigmas together with style tops.There is a short critical roasting to fix the color to spice which comes as orangish strands.
The main colouring compound is crocin with small quantities of picrocrocin.Crocin is a glycoside and on hydrolysis gives aglycon,crocetin and sugar molecule.The colouring principles give bitterness.On steam distillation, a volatile oil is obtained with a yield of slightly less than 1%.The oil contains trimethyl cyclohexan dienal and traces of colouring principles.
It has strong perfume smells almost like honey.Just a pinch of Saffron is enough to give a strong flavour to dishes and add color also.
Production of Saffron
Spain is the main producing country.It is grown in many European Mediterranean countries,Kashmir in India,Iran and China.The plant was first spotted in Kashmir and is aesthetic,exotic,expensive and a spice to be reckoned with.The valley of Kashmir is famous for its Saffron fields located on the Karewas of Pampore.Saffron is a low growing plant with an under ground globular corm,it is cultivated for scented flowers.
Uses of Saffron
- Saffron is stimulant ,aphrodisiac,slightly anodyne and antispasmodic;it has also emmenagogue virtues.It is mainly used to give strong flavour and color to dishes.
- Medicinal uses of saffron:-
it is used in small doses in fevers,melancholia,enlargement of the liver and in spasmodic cough and asthma,in catarrhal affections of children.Given in anemia,choruses mad seminal debility as a stimulant and aphrodisiac,it is considered to be sovereign remedy.It is given in rheumatism and neuralgia and to children with ghee in looseness of the bowls.It is given to relieve flatulent colic amenorrhea,dysmenorrhea,and leucorrhea.Passaries of saffron are used in painful affections of the uterus.Saffron is used externally in headache in the form of paste;also applied to bruises and superficial sores.It is an excellent palliative for hemorrhoids.
- Saffron is also used to treat snake bite.
- Ladies take saffron with milk during pregnancy period for good health and fairness of newborn.It is useful in sleep disorders.In Kashmir,Iran,Arabia,Saffron kahwa tea to guests is being considered as a V.I.P treatment and good hospitality.
- Saffron is specially suitable for colouring rice preparations and sweets.Spanish paella,Indian biriyani,Scandinavian cakes,pastries and rolls and meat preparations of USA and Europe are some of fancy dishes where this expensive spice is used.
- High cost of spice is encouraging people to use substitutes like turmeric in foods,while claiming to be using expensive saffron.
- The reason behind the use of saffron in cooking food is that it has many plant derived chemical components which are known to prevent diseases. They are also known to promote overall well-being of the body.
- The active components contained in saffron make our body lose its depressing characteristics.So saffron is a good anti depressant .
- Saffron is also has digestive properties and an anti convulsant.
- The plant part from where we get saffron contains essential and useful but volatile oils which when added to food, imparts its unique flavour and benefits of saffron as a spice. Cineole, pinene, borneol, geraniol etc..are such oils present in saffron.
- Apart from the volatile oils, saffron also contains non-volatile active components like carotenoid compound that are anti-oxidants and is essential for our body. These prevent free radical reactions which can give harmful by-compounds and cause certain diseases to our body.This is also one of the main uses of saffron.
- Therapeutic uses:-In many religions and states , saffron does not find application as a spice but it is used in various types of therapies like body healing, detoxification and also in the spas.
- Saffron application in skin lighteningskin lightening naturally:-
- Mix a few strands of saffron in milk for 1 to2 hours.
- Make this mix into a paste and apply this paste all over your face and neck.
- Wash off after 20 minutes.
- Using this regularly will make your skin naturally fair.
- Treating of Acne and Blemishes in skin using saffron:
The antifungal content in saffron is used in this
- Take 6-7 basil leaves,natural pure honey (available in natureloc.com) and 10-12 strands of saffron and mix it together in a bowl and make it into a paste.
- Apply this paste on all over your face and neck.
- Wash it off with cold water after it is kept for drying upto 10 to 15 minutes.
- This method will help you to remove acne and pimples in our face.
- Potassium contained in saffron helps controlling blood pressure and heart diseases at bay.It also favourss cell repairing and cell formation.