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Saffron info Tips and Information

Saffron info and tips will help you in your cooking and food preparation.These are very useful and quite interesting information that you learn once and then apply at any time you need it.


saffron info
kesar

Kesar zaffran crocus saffron . . . by whatever name this golden spice has evoked an aura of romance richness and rarit through the ages. In India saffron is worth its weight in gold its vibrant colour and heady bouquet making it pure ambrosia. In earlier times its scent was so valued that the Roman are believed to have perfumed the streets of Rome with saffron oil before Nero entered it. Alexander the Great is said to have wept tears of joy when he first saw the beautiful saffron fields in India. The Mughal emperors of Delh were known to relax to their favourite music i the saffronscented splendour of their marble palaces. Even today saffron reigns in the spic kingdom beautiful fragile and infinitely precious.

How it grows
At one time saffron is known to have grown wild in Persia and Asia Minor. India and Spain are today the only major producers of the spice. In India it only grows in Pampore in the valley of Kashmir and Kishtwar in Jammu. Saffron is the dried stigmas of the Croct~s sativu a perennial bulb which flowers for just two weeks h late Onober In India the lavenderblue blossoms are plucked at dawn before the hot sun wilts them. Then comes the delicate task of prising out the delicate stigmas from vrithin each flower a job done by skilful women by hand The stigmas are dried artificially or in the sun; in Spain the stigmas are toasted over charcoal.

Appearance and taste
Saffron is made up of fine orangegold threads that are so light that 750000 handpicked flowers yield only about 450g. When fresh saffron is bright and glossy but exposure to light and air makes it dull and brittle. Pure saffron is believed to be able to colour and flavour 70000 times its weight in liquid. Its intense musky aroma suffuses any room in which a box of saffron is opened and the taste is slightly bitter but richly perfumed.

Buying and storing
Saffron is sold loosely matted like a lace of dark amber strands. It is also available ground into a deep orange powder. The best saffron is rich in colour and highly fragrant. You will need very small quantities. It loses its zest with keeping; indeed prolonged periods of hoarding can degenerate it into a cake of characterless threads. Store saffron away from light which can bleach it to a faded yellow and in an airtight jar to keep in its fragrance. It is the most expensive spice in the world due to its scarcity fragility and flavour That is why the temptation to adulterate it is considerable look out for copies. The usual adulterant is sunflower aptly called bastard saffron. Cheaper and with thicker strands than saffron it will turn food golden but will not flavour it.


Medicinal and other uses
Saffron is prescribed for flatulent colic urinary disorders skin and menstrual problems. It has featured in the pharmacopoeia of several cultures as a cure for fevers and melancholia. Adding to its romanticism is the fan that it is believed to be a powerhul aphrodisiac and used in the preparation of several sweets and drinks that are thought to stimulate and strengthen libido. In India saffron has a special place in ceremonial worship. Traditionally used as a paste to paint a religious mark on the forehead it is reserved for rituals of birth or marriage. Famous temple deities are anointed daily with generous amounts of its paste to scent and decorate them. The spice also gets special sanctity from its use as a dye for the robes of Hindu and Buddhist priests.

Culinary uses
Saffron enhances savoury food as well as sweet. A few strands soaked in a little warm water or milk and added along with the liquid to the dish adds a fragrant richness. It especially complements milk desserts rlce and chicken. A superb summer drink mango panha is made by boiling raw mangoes and sugar together straining the concentrate and flavouring it with saffron.

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Crocus sativus The goldenorange coloured threads of saffron are the dried stigmas of the autumnal purplecoloured flowers of the crocus plants. They make the most expensive aromatic ingredient in the world because both flowers and stigmas are handpicked and it takes about 6000 of them to produce 25g of saffron. fill Norman in her book Spices says that it was probably first cultivated in Asia Minor as it was used by the ancient Egyptians Greeks and Romans.
The best saffron nowadays comes from Spain where it was introduced by the Arabs around the tenth century. Saffron has an unmistakable aroma and a slightly bitter taste. A pinch of threads will colour a whole dish bright golden. It is preferable to buy threads to safeguard against adulteration.

Saffron is a spice made from the dried stigmas of a special kind of crocus. Expensive only small amounts are used sometimes blended with a little ground turmeric salt and ground sweet paprika to make it go further. Take care when buying. There is no such thing as cheap saffron. To be sure buy in strands dry fry and grind to a powder. Stored in airtight container in the freezer it will keep for years.
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