Saffron (زعفران) is a kind of plant with a flower that comes from Crocus Sativus and iris family. So it is well-known as “Saffron Crocus.” It is the most precious spices all over the world. its place of origin is Greece, but today farmers cultivate it through the Mediterranean and Middle East, including Spain, Morocco, Iran, India, and Pakistan.
The reason for this spice being too expensive is that each flower contains only three threads of it called the stigma, and farmers should harvest these stigmas by their hands. They stalk between long rows of fragile flowers of Saffron and stoop over to pick the stigmas one by one. Seventy-five thousand o Saffron crocuses should be harvested to make one pound of Saffron. Excellent productions depend on cold, dry climate, and it demands well-drained rich fertile soil and enough rainfall.
Saffron Crocus has been cultivated for thousands of years for various using, including medicinal usage, making perfume, dying, and culinary culture as flavoring and coloring. Its dried pistils and stigmas are used to make spice that has been used for so many years in different countries culinary culture, especially in Persian cuisine. This brilliant jewel has a crucial role in Persian cuisine due to its incredible strength, exotic fragrant, and bitter taste properties. Its distinct flavor is due to a chemical compound inside it named “Picrocrocin” and “Safranal.” Also, the Saffron gains its golden-yellow hue color from its carotenoid chemical compound called “crocin.”
It is available worldwide due to extensive use of it in two primary forms, including ground form and thread form. The thread form has a yellow tendril on one end and a flute on the other side. The ground form of it has a wide range in color from red to red-orange. You can buy it easily from whole foods and gourmet grocery stores.
If you want to store it for future usage, keep its threads or ground form in a cool, dry, and dark place. You can place it in the freezer for up to one year. You can also store Saffron water in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Important Nutrition facts and benefits of Saffron
Saffron has high calories, with 310 calories per 3.5oz (100gr). It is a rich source of dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and Protein with 3.9 gr, 65 gr, and 11 gr per 100 gr, respectively. It is a remarkable source of vitamins and minerals. The available essential vitamins include vitamin A and vitamin C and vitamin B6. The minerals properties of Saffron are calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, selenium, zinc, and sodium. It contains total fat with 6 gr per 100 gr, including saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and monounsaturated fat with 1.6 gr, 2.1 gr, and 0.4 gr generally. Finally, it has almost no cholesterol.
Several plant-derived chemical compound properties of Saffron make it one of the essential antioxidants, disease prevention, and health-provoking materials. Its antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals properties provide mire health to our body and reduce aging and risk of most diseases and disorders. The illnesses that Saffron has a prevention role include cancers, heart diseases, Mental illness and depression, Diabetes, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), Alzheimer’s disease, etc.
The daily consumption of Saffron also helps us to reduce appetite and lose weight. Saffron helps brain health, improves skin and hair, eyesight, pain relief, liver health, and reduces stress.
So we recommend you add this fantastic spice to your daily diet and garnish your dishes with its eye-catching color and its pleasant aroma.
The place of Saffron in Persian cuisine:
As mentioned earlier, Saffron is widely using due to its eye-catching color and its pleasant aroma. No one can deny the exclusive place of it in Persian Culinary culture. It is like brilliant jewelry in any recipe. If we want to name the dishes that Saffron is added to them as a spice, it would be an endless list, including Persian stews (Khoresht) such as Ghormeh Sabzi, Gheymeh, eggplant, and lamb stew, Joojeh Kabab, rice meals, dip recipes such as Abghosht, Kofteh Tabrizi, Boranies, Adasi, any types of soups, various disserts like Sholeh Zard, Shirberenj, Khagineh, and variation of pastries and cookies and so on. However, using it is optional, but the dishes will not be what they are without it.
How to prepare Saffron and how to brew it better:
We have different techniques to make Saffron. But here, we are going to explain the method of Persian chiefs in making brewed it.
In the first step, Persian chiefs always grind Saffron threads and make a fine powder. Its powder will ever release more color and aroma in the dishes and cause them to look very indulgent.
Persian cooks mostly use a small mortar and a pestle to grind Saffron. They can be made of ceramic, stone, or metals. If you want to invest in using it, you can choose a small mortar and pestle and dedicate it to grinding Saffron. Adding a pinch of coarse sugar will help you to grind Saffron easily.
In the second step, you should “brew” it and make its liquid. We have two methods here to brew a good one that both of them work well. So stay with us to go through these method’s details:
- You can brew the Saffron in “Boiling water”:
- Put ¼ teaspoon of ground Saffron in a small jar.
- Pour one tablespoon freshly boiled water into another tiny jar. Let it cool for some seconds.
- Add the cool-up boiled water to the ground saffron.
- Cover the narrow opening of the jar with a lid. Place it on a warm surface such as the lid of simmering Samovar or kettle.
- Let it brews for 10 to 15 minutes.
- You can brew it with “ice cubes”:
- Put ¼ teaspoon of ground Saffron in a bowl.
- Place one ice cube in the bowl and crush it.
- Leave it at room temperature. Let the ice cube melt, and ground Saffron infuses.
- The best color and aroma will be brought out by using the gradual melting.