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[LUX-FO] EP 2: THE SECRET OF SAFFRON, THE MOST INGREDIENTS FOR ROYAL

Saffron is a natural herb that grows mainly in the Middle East, North America, Northern Europe, and Oceania. Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, is obtained from the flower stigmas of the saffron crocus plant, an iris family member. Saffron is valued in the culinary world for its fragrant flavour and lovely golden colour. As a result, saffron is one of the most expensive herbs in the world and has a substantial positive impact on health through food ingredients and beauty secrets. 

Middle-eastern red gold

On the market, Saffron, also known as "red gold" in the Middle East, is sold at many prices, even up to 700 million VND/ kg. The brands of this product are also varied, from Baby Saffron (India) to Iranian brands Saffron (capital of Saffron) such as Badiee Saffron, Edman Saffron, Gohar Saffron, Bahrain Saffron and Saharkhiz Saffron.

For health, Saffron can treat mild to moderate depression and insomnia, treat degenerative dry retinopathy, reduce kidney toxicity, enhance memory and brain health, and kill cancer cells. In the matter of beauty, especially for women, especially for women with irregular periods, Saffron can help regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce pain and improve mood during the period and at the same time. In addition, it May help reduce chronic uterine bleeding.

Why is Saffron expensive?

Saffron is the most expensive food on the planet, with wholesale prices as high as $10,000 per pound. As a result, it has always been considered a delicacy: a fabric dye for royalty, a perfume component for the affluent, and an ingredient reserved for rare feasts that immediately connote luxury.

Saffron threads are the stamens of the crocus native flower, a problematic plant requiring meticulous human nurturing. The crocus barely blooms for a few hours daily, and each flower has three tiny saffron threads. Over 50,000 blooms are needed to generate one pound of saffron.  As a result, it's no wonder that the market is flooded with fake saffron. To acquire the real thing, buy whole saffron rather than ground, which is sometimes contaminated with fillers, and look for thin, wavy threads with yellow spots at one end, indicating that the stamens haven't been dyed and are revealing their actual colors.

The high price of saffron is due to the extensive work involved in harvesting the spice. Saffron flowers are often collected by hand, and a single pound of high-quality saffron might necessitate up to 75,000 blooms.

The saffron plant is also a sterile triploid, which means that saffron crocuses cannot self-reproduce or develop in the wild and must be cloned to continue growing. Therefore, the saffron crop is cultivated during the saffron harvest, and the crocus flower and saffron stigma are harvested from the bulbs, also known as saffron corms.

How does Saffron make the food exclusive?

Just a tiny amount of saffron is required for a meal. At the same time, threads are seldom used in Iranian cuisine. To stretch saffron and make its use more affordable, chefs ground ropes with a little sprinkle of sugar or salt to produce a fine powder. It is often done with a mortar and pestle, but larger quantities are generally pounded in a spice grinder.

Saffron isn't commonly found in American kitchens, but its rich, flowery spice enlivens recipes and adds interesting flavour nuances. Saffron is a favourite spice for Chef John Cleveland, proprietor of Post & Beam in Los Angeles, especially for mycophiles. “Saffron’s earthy, pungent notes perfectly complement mushrooms and rice dishes,” Cleveland said.

This desired spice smells earthy and sweet, with almond, rose, and honey taste notes. If you're not used to flowery flavours, you could find saffron extremely perfumery or even "soapy" at first because there's nothing like it in the average American pantry. Saffron has a distinct honeyed flowery flavour that is difficult to explain unless you try.

The saffron should be added directly to a meal, but there is a technique to make the taste last longer. “We infuse the saffron in water because that is the most effective way to season,” Cleveland said. “You can use saffron powders or spice blends, but you will not get the full flavour of using fresh threads and creating a saffron concentrate.”

Moreover, the saffron may be used immediately in recipes like fish kababs or grilled chicken, or it can be covered and refrigerated for a few days without losing effectiveness. Avoid purchasing cheap bottled saffron water since it is most likely contaminated with food coloring, turmeric, paprika, or safflower. No substance can duplicate saffron's rich, flowery, sweet, earthy flavour, enticing perfume, and warm sunset tint. 



Source: Taste (an online publication for the home cook), Livekindly, The New York Times and Master Class

Image: ChefJob, Saffron Bahraman, The New York Time, and Master Class

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