Semilla Besada is sharing the sunny pictures of that amazing crocus that is an indispensable item in Spanish cuisine, including their national dish the paella. Just a few stigmas of fresh saffron is enough to enhance the flavor and color of the entire recipe.
Saffron is one of the highly prized spices known since antiquity for its color, flavor and medicinal properties. It is the dried “stigma” or threads of the flower of the Crocus sativus plant. It is a bulbous perennial plant that belongs to the family of Iridaceae, in the genus, Crocus, and known botanically as Crocus sativus.
The Crocus sativus plant grows to about 15-20cm in height and bears lavender colored flowers during each season which lasts from October until November. Each flower features perianth consisting of a stalk, known as “style,” connecting to three “stigmas” or threads to the rest of the plant. These orange-yellow colored stigmas along with the “style” constitute “saffron” a prized condiment spice.
Good saffron crop production demands cold, dry climate with well-drained rich fertile soil and sufficient amount of rainfall. The flowers are harvested during the early-morning hours.
Saffron has a distinct flavor that comes from chemical compounds in it such as picrocrocin, and safranal. It also contains a natural carotenoid chemical compound, crocin, which gives saffron its golden-yellow hue. These traits along with its medicinal properties make it a valuable ingredient in many cuisines worldwide.
Health Benefits of Saffron
- Saffron contains several plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have been antioxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
- The active components in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antidepressant, antioxidant, digestive, anti-convulsant.
- This novel spice is an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium.
- Additionally, it is also rich in many vital vitamins, including vitamin-A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health.
- The active components present in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines. More info can be found here.