The world's most expensive spice is dubbed the 'red gold'
It costs up to 11,000 USD/kg. Not only is the spice expensive, but the saffron pistil is also an herb with great value for health and beauty.
Saffron is a spice made from the pistil of saffron - a perennial plant in the iris family, that blooms in the fall and thrives in harsh climates. Saffron can stand against cold winters, hot summers, but they still need rain. However, the amount of rain suitable for saffron growth and development depends on the climate and soil of each region.
Countries like Greece, Morocco, Kashmir, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Afghanistan, and India are the most suitable places in the world to grow and produce saffron. Especially Iran, which is considered the capital of saffron, accounts for 85% of world production. Thanks to the relatively dry and sunny climate, it is suitable for growing this flower. Currently, a pound of saffron falls into about 10,000 USD.
The difficult process of cultivation and harvesting
To grow and produce saffron, farmers must ensure certain essential factors such as soil, irrigation, temperature, etc. and prevent harmful threats such as rabbits, rats, birds, and certain diseases of saffron leaves and tubers during planting.
Normally, each saffron has only 4 flowers, each has 3 pistils. People have to manually pick them extremely carefully for absolute quality products. It is estimated that about 90,000 flowers will acquire 500g of dry saffron and take 40 working hours to harvest 150,000 flowers.
Some Iranian locals said: “In order to obtain the most effective harvest, you should guarantee the conditions of sunlight to not lose the aroma of the pistil. After that, the pistil is dried immediately to avoid losing the characteristic flavor. On average, it takes about 40 hours under normal conditions to complete the harvest. ”
The process of categorizing the quality and utility of each type of pistil is no less complicated. After harvesting, saffron is usually classified into four main types:
- Negin: This is the best and has the highest market price, selected from long, high-quality filaments of uniform color and their pedicels cut off.
- Sargol: High quality but a bit less than Negin because of the thin and smaller filaments.
- Pushali: The quality is somewhat inferior to the above two types because the yellow stern legs and the red upper body are not removed.
- Bunch: This type of pistil has the lowest quality because the stamens when harvested often leave raw fiber, bundled into thick bundles so it is difficult to check the quality carefully.
A spice that is good for health
More than 3,000 years ago, saffron was known to be a magical spice for different dishes. Saffron is widely used in food, people can find them in Spanish paella, Persian pilau. Stewed fish dishes, glazed cakes, pastries, baked goods use flour of the pistil to add a unique flavor to the dish. Because of its characteristic flavor and aroma, just a little saffron is enough to make the dish aromatic.
In the dyeing industry, the saffron pistil is used to dye woolen coats of Minoan women. In addition, in cosmetics, it is mixed with animal fat, beeswax to make lipsticks.
Not only that, saffron pistil contains many precious chemical components such as picrocrocin, crocin, and safranin. These are the three ingredients that make up the aroma, bitterness, and color of the saffron pistil. Other parts of saffron, such as petals, leaves, and tubers, also contain antioxidants which are most concentrated in the pistil.
Thereby it helps to increase resistance, greatly support health treatment. Specifically, saffron tea is highly effective in boosting blood vessel activity. Every day, drinking about 0.1-0.5g saffron, your skin will become beautiful, the energy will be regulated, and menstruation will be improved. It can also reduce freckles on your face.
Drinking saffron tea can regulate and improve menstrual disorders, but you should not drink it when on period. Because saffron impacts circulating meridians, it is effective in protecting the cardiovascular system of the body and brain blood vessels as well as preventing cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction.
Middle-aged and elderly people regularly using saffron will help prevent heart attack and brain thrombosis. Saffron can boost metabolism, reduce oxidation, thereby protecting the cardiovascular system.
Saffron can also improve blood circulation in the eye retina, protecting its inner layer. It may improve the anemia in the eye retina of people with severely short-sighted. Not only that, but saffron also provides the carotenoid active ingredients, enhancing the antioxidant ability, which has a positive effect on the elderly with macular degeneration. It helps lower intraocular pressure in people with primary hypertension.
Drinking saffron tea regularly will help blood circulation, anti-inflammatory naturally. When active ingredients from saffron are absorbed into the body, they naturally adjust the whole body for a very good effect. Eastern medicine said that saffron can regulate yin and yang in the body to reach equilibrium, if natural yin and yang balance, it will strengthen the immune system.
Some records wrote that Egyptian Queen Cleopatra also often used saffron to preserve her beauty and increase her charm. She often put some of this saffron stamen in her bath water to keep her skin always young and beautiful, which was also a way to help her become more attractive. Even King Alexander the Great also often used saffron to restore health and heal wounds after each battle.
It is these wonderful uses that make saffron become "very expensive." However, in recent years, this expensive spice is sold everywhere. Therefore, buyers need to pay attention and learn how to distinguish genuine and fake goods.
Accordingly, users only need to drop saffron in cold water. Authentic saffron will fade slowly, give a bright turmeric yellow, while low-quality counterfeit goods will fade out like artificial coloring, often with orange-red color. While the strands of true saffron when dropped into water are oblong, fake products have shorter strands. In addition, consumers should choose a reputable product distributor to buy saffron pistil.
By: Nancy Wood