Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world by weight. It is 10 times more costly than vanilla. Saffron is the dried stigma golden red thread from the blue saffron crocus flower. This exotic spice is almost worth the price of gold and sold by the gram. The dried stigma is hand picked and takes 80,000 crocus flowers to make 500 grams of saffron. One gram of saffron you will need 190 flowers due to each plant produces 3 threads. Saffron is native to the Mediterranean, Asia, India, Turkey, and Iran. But it is now primarily imported from Spain. The alternative world considers saffron’s benefits value as the weight of gold.
Since saffron being very expensive one must be cautious in purchasing this exotic spice due to there are adulterated and bogus items that mimic this delicate spice. To determine if your saffron is pure genuine or not you must immerse a tiny piece in milk or warm water. If the color of the liquid changes immediately then it’s adulterated (fake). Saffron takes 10-15 minutes of soaking in warm water or milk before it can bleed its deep color and aroma begin to develop.
Saffron is sold in threads and ground. You are better off in buying the thread than ground because you do not know if it is the “real” thing.
Saffron does more than just add flavor and color to foods. It has an ancient medical history and scientific research facts to back its health boost claims.
The compounds found in saffron are crocin and safranel. The crocin has antioxidant carotenoids and cell-neuro-protective properties and gives the spice its golden yellow color. Safranel a volatile oil found in the spice has antioxidant, cytotoxicity towards cancer cells, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant properties.
Saffron may help prevent and treat the following:
ü Alzheimer’s disease – effective as donepezil at slowing mental decline without the side effects
ü Atherosclerosis – cardiovascular disease, lower the levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides, enhances oxygen diffusivity in plasma- improving pulmonary oxygenation
ü Cancer - Inhibit cancer cells, shrink tumor cells, lung, colon, breast, liver, pancreatic, bladder, cervical, and leukemia cancer
ü Depression – “Mother Nature’s Prozac”, effective as imipramine (Tofranil) without the side effects
ü Macular degeneration, age related – significantly increase blood flow in the retina, slows down blindness, protects eyes from bright light
ü Memory loss – Promotes learning, memory retention, and recall capacity
ü Erectile dysfunction
ü High blood pressure (hypertension)
ü Infertility male – protected and regenerated the sperm
ü Insomnia – increases sleep time
ü Menstrual cramps
ü Multiple Sclerosis
ü Parkinson’s disease
ü Premenstrual syndrome PMS
ü As a paste to relieve skin dryness
ü Stomach aches
ü Kidney stones
ü Blood circulation, blood purifier
ü Soreness and inflammation of the mouth and tongue
ü Gastro intestinal disorders, acidity, and colic
The taste of saffron varies depending where it is grown and amount of crocin it contains. When saffron meets water, the flavor intensifies so a pinch goes a long way.
Saffron only works in liquids and must be infused in warm water or milk before it is added to a recipe. Never infuse it in oil. You can break or grind the threads in a mortar and pestle before adding the spice to the liquid. If you use too much of it, then it will give foods a bitter taste.
When using saffron in supplement form, be sure to not exceed recommended dosages.
3 threads of saffron or less
Add to hot water and steep for 20 minutes
*Add a Ceylon cinnamon stick or any other spice or herb to reduce bitterness of the saffron
** Use stevia, raw honey, or raw agave nectar to naturally sweeten tea.
Above all this exquisite spice is worth an investment. So give the thread a try.