Table of contents:
Video: Saffron (Crocus) - Features And Uses
As soon as the sun warms up in the spring, the first delicate flowers on short stalks, similar in shape to small tulips, peep out from under the snow. Their colors are the most diverse, but most often they are pale purple. Leaves are erect, narrow, appear after flowering. Have you guessed what plant we are talking about? That's right, it's a crocus. This name was given to this flower by the ancient Greeks.
So, our beloved primrose has a brother - sowing crocus, from which they get the most ancient, amazing, mystical spice praised by poets - saffron. To obtain 1 kg of this spice, 200,000 flowers have to be processed manually. Three bright orange funnel-shaped stigmas with part of the column are plucked out of them and quickly dried in a dark place. This work is very time consuming, therefore the price of saffron is very high. No wonder in the East they say: "As expensive as saffron." And beloved wives gently whisper in their ear: "My saffron."
Expensive is how much, you ask. I don't know the world prices, but not so long ago they brought me a few grams of real Iranian saffron at a price of 10 euros per gram. And a couple of weeks ago, my sister invited me on a tour of the new supermarket. The scent of oriental spices spread over the huge building. It turned out that in one of the departments, a cheerful and handsome Tajik was briskly selling spices. On one of the boxes I saw the inscription: "saffron". I asked about the price. It turned out - 60 rubles per box, and in it 100 grams. I say, open, they say, I will smell and taste the product. The box contained turmeric, which, in ancient times, was often passed off as saffron.
The Tajiks had to remind them that Timur loved to put people like him on a stake, the Egyptian pharaohs simply buried crooks in the sand alive, the Persian Shah Abbas chopped off his hands and cut genitals, and in Europe the guilty were routinely burned at the stake. In the end, I left with a bag of quality spices, paying half the price, but without the saffron. That's what it means to be well versed in culinary spices!
No one really knows who first came up with the idea to use saffron, its history goes back so deeply that it is difficult to get to the bottom of the truth. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians were the first to dye fabrics with saffron and even reflected this process in the visual arts. Two stigmas of the flower are enough for three liters of water to acquire a beautiful yellow-orange color with a brown tint and a pleasant aroma.
Babylonian and Persian rulers wore saffron-dyed shoes and beards, and the ladies of the ancient era wore silk dresses. Fragrant water and scented ointments were prepared from it. Saffron incense was brought by the wise men to the Christ child. They not only saved themselves from bad smells due to the lack of deodorants, but also protected themselves from infections. Already in many medieval culinary recipes and books of alchemists, it was prescribed to cook various dishes with the addition of this spice. Remember the magic grass from the fairy tale "Dwarf Nose"?
The English king Henry VIII was so fond of fragrant spice that he forbade the ladies of the court to dye their hair. Muslims, on the other hand, were forced to dye their hair red with saffron. Therefore, Georgians during the times of Didi Mouravi (that is the name of the great commander Georgy Saakadze, just do not confuse with the current Georgian leader) easily identified traitors in their ranks. By the way, there were no bald people then, saffron strengthens the hair follicles.
Saffron is not only a dye and a spice, without which you cannot cook any real Easter cake or fish soup in Marseilles, but also an excellent preservative, the antiseptic properties of which were known to the Egyptian priests, they used saffron in the composition of embalming agents, medicines and anti-aging creams.
Saffron stigmas help with colds, heart diseases, as a sedative and cosmetic. In India, water infusion is used to treat urolithiasis (2 teaspoons of stigmas per 1 glass of boiling water, leave for a week, take 4 times a day, 1 tablespoon).
Unfortunately, in our country, sowing saffron grows only in the extreme south and blooms in the fall, at the same time a highly poisonous plant similar to it blooms - the autumn crocus. Many are mistaken, and suffer from poisoning too. Recently, I caught my friend's grandmother plucking the entrails of the crocus flowers, she hoped in this way to get rid of kidney stones, and everything would end up washing the stomach in the hospital. So I started this article in order not only to talk about the amazing spice, but also to warn that it will not work out to get it in our northern conditions, that our crocus is different from the southern one, and that it is very dangerous to confuse it with the crocus !