Saffron is the rarest and most expensive spice in the world, hence, it is dubbed ‘red gold’, while it is costlier than pure gold. The word saffron comes from the Arabic word for yellow. According to Brut Nature, it can cost more than 35,000 US dollar a kilogram because of the time and effort it takes to harvest it.
Cultivation of the red gold has taken place for 3,500 years in different cultures. A study revealed that this spice originated in Crete, the largest and most populous of the Greek islands.
Later, this spread to North Africa and Eurasia. Now different countries have adopted this treasure. It is mainly cultivated in Iran and India now, while Afghanistan, Spain, Bilgah area of Azerbaijan and some parts of Kashmir in Pakistan also offer high quality of it. Netherland is experimenting to grow it in greenhouse, which has not so far yielded the desired results.
Saffron crop is a surpassingly labour intensive crop. To yield one kilo of its produce, 150,000 flowers and about 400 hours of work are required. Saffron is extracted from Crocus sativus flower, which blooms for just 24 hours, so they have to be harvested immediately before they die. Stamen and pistils of the flowers are then detached, dried and backed in sun, and then packaged.
Beware of counterfeit products
You can find counterfeit saffron in the market in which dried leaves of Crocus sativus and sometimes other spices such as turmeric powder are dyed and added. People sometime mistake safflower for saffron.
A very popular chef Olivier Roellinger has suggested that using small quantity of high-quality saffron was better than mediocre one. He said if you bought saffron of inferior quality then “you have to use more and more of (it) without ever achieving that nice flavor.
A good quality of 1 gram of saffron is sufficient to savour a hundred dishes.
Saffron has so many health benefits which include:
It is a powerful antioxidant. This may improve mood and treat depressive symptoms. It has cancer-fighting properties. It can cure PMS symptoms, appetite loss and weight loss. It also works as an aphrodisiac.