Saffron has been used in gastronomy for more than two millennia. Today this link between cuisine and tradition is stronger than ever. The spice characterized by a bitter aftertaste and light metallic notes, can be used in several fields. In addition to coloring power able to give each dish a touch of joy, today saffron seems to be one of the many elements that characterize good menus and enhances culture of gastronomic tradition of many countries. It can be used in numerous recipes, in addition to classic Paella in which the spice is fundamental.
In Arabic countries saffron is used in coffee, along with cardamom.
If we add a little bit of saffron to the cappuccino, it will give it a similar taste to vanilla. Some of the World’s best chefs’ recommend to infuse it in milk – for ice-cream, yoghurt, rice pudding, etc. It can be used for making cakes, giving them a fresh and original touch. In the pastry and bakery, saffron is a star product, combined with scents of orange, lemon, coconut or spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. A few threads of saffron placed on potatoes make them an exquisite dish.
Saffron is even used in making some drinks (such as gins or vodkas).
Although saffron is more of a traditional product, it has also found its place in avant-garde cuisine, experimenting and playing with all senses.
Due to its properties, saffron is an appreciated ingredient all over the world, earning the recognition of gastronomy’s «Red Gold».
Cuisine and culture are interrelated, so the ingredients used in cooking depend on every particular culture and tradition.
Saffron, the most expensive popular spice and its culinary uses have made a great difference in worldwide food taste.
Saffron is used in Indian cuisine, in preparing rice, ice cream and sweets. In Arabia it is used for coffee and in Italy for the famous risotto. In
Spain, the best known food that incorporates saffron is paella, giving it aroma, flavor and the specific color to the dish.
Saffron has been used since antiquity in the prevention or cure of various diseases.
Saffron plays a stimulating function in digestion and has a sedative action that generates very important therapeutic effects.
In general, it is known that saffron influences the nervous system: it can be both analgesic and tonic. Also, it can be used to reduce insomnia caused by brain stimulants, spasmodic attacks and toothache. It is a known pain reliever.
The components of saffron make it beneficial for many diseases, so it can be used as a great substitution for chemical elements in medicine.
The health benefits of saffron are multiple:
Positive effect on learning and memory
Treating menstruation syndrome
Reduce the colesterol
According to a study made by the University of Castilla-La Mancha, crocin and safranal – two of the three main components of saffron – give this product qualities to combat first signs of Alzheimer’s, highlighting its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
In addition to its culinary purposes, saffron is also appreciated for its antioxidant and soothing properties in skincare and haircare. Nutritional components of saffron include minerals and vitamins such as B2, B3, A, folic acid, calcium, magnesium and other micronutrients, which make this spice a very useful product for cosmetic industry, also having a protective impact against UV rays.
Regarding skin care, saffron has a high concentration of glycan, a substance that is responsible for epidermis cells nutrition, which keep it hydrated, free of impurities, soft, clear and rejuvenated. In addition to being a great antioxidant and soothing, saffron has healing, exfoliating, anti-wrinkle and anti-blemish properties. Saffron also takes care of hair, leaving it strong and shiny – in fact, in antiquity, women used saffron to dye their hair and to give it a nice fragrance.
Saffron and mostly its purple flowers have been known as a coloring substance since ancient times. In China, saffron was charged with symbolism because of its dyeing properties. Buddha wore a saffron colored robe and the Buddhist monks used it as a medicinal plant or raw material for dyes. It had been used in the dyeing industry to give materials such as silk, yarn, wool, cotton, etc. a natural, pleasant and outstanding color.