There’s more to these delicate strands than you’d expect.
The therapeutic effects of saffron, crocus sativus, primarily strengthens the heart and nervous system.
It aids digestion, by increasing the appetite and can help relieve nosebleeds, fatigue and exhaustion.
And now, new research shows saffron can boost your mood.
It’s the most expensive spice on Earth, and for good reason.
It takes up to 75,000 handpicked blossoms, each with only 3 strands of saffron, to make just 1 pound of this high-maintenance ingredient.
So, why bother?
Well, not only can a few threads add intense color and bold, honey-like flavor to an otherwise drab dish, but new research also shows that saffron-spice offers plenty of unexpected health benefits, such as alleviating depression and even preventing cancer.
People who got 30 milligrams of saffron a day for 6 weeks reported the same improvement in their depression symptoms as those who received 20 milligrams of fluoxetine (a.k.a. Prozac).
Saffron-spice enhances the activity of (mood-boosting) neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine.
And in another recent study published in Cancer Detection and Prevention, researchers touted saffron’s anti-tumor and cancer-preventive benefits.
Saffron-spice is rich in antioxidants such as crocin, a carotenoid that helps prevent the spread and growth of cancer.
Rubbing your gums with saffron-spice can reduce soreness and inflammation.
Crush a few threads of saffron-spice into a powder and use your index finger to massage gently into your gums.
For appetite loss, or a too full feeling have a simple saffron ginger tonic on hand.
Using a pinch of saffron threads, 1/4 oz. ginger root (crushed) and one pint of 100 proof alcohol.
Place the saffron-spice and alcohol in a covered glass container, let mixture steep for 14 days in a cool, dry place.
After 14 days, pour it into a pan, and heat briefly, strain.
Take one tbsp. of tonic before meals and your appetite will return.
If you’ve never given saffron a try because it’s expensive ($8 to $12 per g.) or you don’t know how to use it, then it’s time to rethink this potent spice.
For best results, opt for saffron threads rather than powder (powdered saffron can taste medicinal and may be diluted with cheaper spices like turmeric).
Store it in tight re-sealable container and store in a cool, dark place or in your freezer for up to 2 years.
Don't let it get damp or you'll end up losing it all together.
Healing with Saffron
In Eastern medicines, too, saffron-spice played and still plays—a star role.
Ayurvedic texts prescribe the “drug” for colds and coughs, flatulence, urinary problems, acne and other skin disorders.
And for menstrual cramps, how about warm milk flushed with saffron and sweetened with a little honey? So simple, so soothing.
Sufferers of arthritis may also find that saffron milk eases their aches and pains.
Even Western medicine has started to take saffron seriously, with recent studies suggesting that it may be useful in treating cancer and heart disease, and in slowing down blindnes.
Cooking with Saffron
Because of the high price, a mystique has grown up around saffron, making us think we need to be some kind of top chef to handle it properly.
This isn't true.
Don't be afraid of it.
The secrets of the spice are there for anyone to unwrap, though you will need to experiment: to get used to handling and preparing it, to get a taste and a nose for its singular flavor and aroma, to get a feel for the right quantity and strength.
Don't add saffron threads directly to foods though, the flavor is better distributed when the spice is first allowed to soften in a little warm water.
Wait until the water takes on a yellow color and then add it to your dish.
Plus use it sparingly.
Toast the threads in a dry pan for a few seconds, or rub them between your hands to release saffron’s aroma and oils before steeping them in hot water.
For every teaspoon of saffron in a recipe, add 5 tsp. of liquid and soak for 20 minutes.
If your dish includes broth or wine, pour a little of it over the saffron before making the recipe.
The other thing to remember is that a little goes a very long way.
Some recipes call for a whole teaspoon of the stuff.
Saffron is a subtle spice and you just don't need this much.
Apart from making it costly to use, overkill will result in a bitter, metallic tang.
To bring out the full flavor of the spice, grind the threads and/or steep them in a little warm water, milk or other cooking liquid.
And to make the most of your saffron, try the following simple ideas.
Add a few threads to fish soup, chowders, J.R.'s bouillabaisse, or stews when you begin cooking them.
Steam mussels with saffron and orange peels.
Stir a few threads (about 1/4 tsp.) saffron into boiling water when making pasta or risotto.
Adding too much can produce a bitter taste and it has been known that a large dosage can make a person feel ill, and more than 1/3 oz. can be fatal.
Now, if you're wondering what to have for dinner this evening, might we suggest;
Halibut in Cider with Saffron Rice
This is an exquisite fish recipe that would go great with an equally exquisite glass of wine!
1/4 c. all-purpose flour.
3/4 lb. described fish.
2 tsp. olive oil.
3 med. cloves garlic, crushed.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2 med. tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 c.)
1/4 c. hard cider.
1. Place flour on a plate and add sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
Roll fish in the flour, making sure all sides are coated.
Shake off excess.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium size non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add fish and brown 3 minutes, turn, and brown second side 2 minutes.
Remove to a plate.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Raise heat and add garlic, tomatoes, and cider to the skillet.
Cook 5 minutes to thicken sauce.
If tomatoes are watery, cook a few more minutes.
4. Return fish to skillet, lower heat, and cook in sauce 3 minutes.
Remove fish to 2 dinner plates and spoon sauce over fish.
Makes 2 Servings.
Ingredients ~ Saffron Rice:
Makes 6 servings
2 Tbs. Butter
2 ea. Bay Leaves
1 tsp. Cumin seeds
1/2 c. Uncooked rice
1 ea. 1 inch Cinnamon stick
1 tsp. Sea salt
3 ea. Brown cardamon pods, crushed
1 1/2 c. Chicken stock
4 ea. Whole Cloves
1/4 tsp. Saffron
1/2 tsp. Black Peppercorns
Heat butter in medium heavy saucepan and fry cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves for about 2 minutes.
Add rice and fry for 2 - 3 minutes more.
Stir in salt, chicken stock and saffron.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove from heat.
After 5 minutes, fluff with fork.
39 g. Protein,
29 g. Carbohydrates,
9 g. Fat,
1 g. Saturated Fat,
54 mg. Cholesterol,
3 g. Fiber,
111 mg. Sodium.Tweet
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