Saffron Uses in Cooking
Saffron has been used over the centuries as a natural coloring and aromatic in food, pastries and drinks. Saffron is used extensively in Persian, European, North African, Indian, Spanish, Arab, Turkish, Moroccan, and Asian cuisines. Its aroma is described by experts as resembling that of honey, with grassy, hay-like, and metallic notes. Saffron's taste is like that of hay, but with hints of bitter. Even though saffron stigmas are red, it contributes a luminous yellow-orange coloring to items it is soaked with. For these traits saffron is used in baked foods, rice, cheeses, confectionaries, curries, liquors, meat dishes, soups, macaronis, and even ice creams.
The saffron uses in food industry are increasing due to its golden color, and exotic aroma. Its most common function is to color rice yellow, as in risotto Milanese, where its delicate flavor make it the most famous of Italian rice dishes. It combines well with fish and seafood, famous as a key ingredient of Persian chicken and beef kabob, Spanish paella, Mexican fiambre, Arabic lamb and chicken, Azerbaijani pakhlava, and Indian pilafs, desserts and sauces as well as French bouillabaisse. In England, saffron is probably best known for its use in Cornish saffron buns where it is paired with dried fruit in a yeast cake. It is also found in Swedish, Cornish and Pennsylvania Dutch holiday breads.
Medicinal Properties of Saffron
Documentation of saffron's use over the span of 4,000 years in the treatment of some 90 illnesses has been uncovered.
Saffron contains more than 100 components, but the three most promising appears to be: Crocin which is responsible for its orange color, Picrocrocin which provides its bitter taste, and Safranal which gives its aroma.
It has a long history in traditional healing and has been recently recognized for treating respiratory infections and disorders such as coughs and colds, scarlet fever, smallpox, cancer, hypoxia, and asthma. Other targets included blood circulatory disorders, insomnia, paralysis, heart diseases, stomach upsets, gout, chronic uterine haemorrhage, dysmorrhea, amenorrhea, baby colic, eye disorders, digestive stimulant, women menstrual pain, menopausal problems, and depression. It also helps with memory loss, male impotency, encourages oxygen flow, speeds the healing of wounds, and prevents cell death.
Anti Cancer Properties
A growing number of respected scientists are convinced of the possibility of saffron in curing cancer.
Saffron's pharmacological effects on malignant tumors have been documented in different studies. Saffron has shown promise as a new and alternative treatment for a variety of cancers.
A growing body of laboratory evidence indicates that saffron does have anti cancer effects. This property was first described in papers by the Indian scientist S.C. Nair in 1991.
Some studies show that saffron can inhibit the growth of some types of skin cancer, as well as another type of tumor called sarcoma. Extracts of saffron have been shown to inhibit the formation of tumors and/or to retard tumor progression in a variety of experimental animal systems. Researchers found that feeding mice with a saffron extract prevented the formation of soft tissue sarcomas.
Antioxidant Properties / Benefits of Saffron for Eyes
Until recently, saffron was perceived only for its value as a spice. However, with recent research findings pointing to antioxidant property of saffron, interest in this plant has increased.
The intense orange color of saffron hints of its medicinal nature. It is particularly rich in carotenoids, which are antioxidants that protect the body from free radical damage.
Saffron’s golden orange color comes from the carotenoids and beta carotenes (precursor of vitamin A) found in carrots. Benefit of beta carotene and carotenoids is that they have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The reddish-colored zeaxanthin is one of the carotenoids naturally present within the retina of the human eye. For its zeaxanthins property, saffron is also known for reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) of the eyes.
Medicinal uses for saffron
From its use by Cleopatra as an aphrodisiac, to recent studies proving it to be a cancer suppressant, saffron plays a critical role in herbal medicines and has proven its efficacy in modern medicine through many clinical studies.
Perhaps one of the more common medicinal uses for saffron is as an antidepressant. Use of saffron as an antidepressant dates back thousands of years. Evidence has been uncovered of its use in teas to cure melancholy as long ago as the 10th century BC.
Saffron has analgesic properties and was put to use by Alexander the Great to aid in curing his battle wounds. Early Egyptians first discovered the power of saffron to aid with gastrointestinal disorders, and saffron is still used for digestive ailments today.
Saffron is also used as a remedy for epileptic seizures, whooping cough and other violent coughing spells, and as a liver aid and heart medication. Pregnant women should avoid using saffron as there is possibility of miscarriage risk.
Saffron has many wondrous healing properties and uses, making it a valuable addition to any home herbal collection. As with any remedy, take care not to overdose as saffron poisoning is possible! Test findings suggest saffron spice reverses age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of blindness in old people. Saffron affects the amount of fat stored by the eye, making vision cells tougher and more resilient.
In the relatively small quantities in which saffron is usually consumed, it seems to be a perfectly safe and harmless substance and it’s been used in cooking and medicine for centuries.
Saffron and Skin
In Europe, saffron threads were a key component of aromatic oil known as Crocinum, Crocinum was applied as a perfume to hair. Another preparation involved mixing saffron with wine to produce a viscous yellow spray that was copiously applied to Roman theatres as an air freshener. As a perfume, saffron was strewn in Greek and Roman halls, courts, theaters and balls. Today, for its aroma and color saffron is used as an oil base for perfumes.
As people are being more aware of benefits of saffron on skin and saffron uses, the usage of this precious spice is now improving just because, saffron is a natural product for its aroma, and it contains removing pimples, easing rashes, and smoothing face and skin properties.
Beauty benefits of saffron
1.Take 1 teaspoon of sandalwood power, 2-3 strands of saffron, and 2 spoons of milk. Mix all ingredients together. Prior to applying this face mask, wash your face and wipe with a cloth. Apply this mask when the face is still wet. You can massage your skin thoroughly with this pampering face pack in a circular motion. Let it dry for 20 minutes and then rinse it off. Apply this sandal-saffron mask at least once a week for a radiant and smooth skin.
2. Saffron is teeming with anti-bacterial qualities, which make it ideal for curing acne. Saffron’s exfoliating qualities make it a wonderful aid in clearing and brightening up the complexion.
3. Soak up few stands of saffron in milk for 2 hours. Then smear this milk all over your face and neck. Wash off after few minutes. On continuous use, you skin will start getting fairer naturally.
4. Saffron is an excellent skin lightening agent that helps to lighten your skin tone dramatically. You can make a skin lightening face mask with 2-3 strands of saffron, 1 pinch of sugar , 1 teaspoon of milk, 1 teaspoon of water and 2-3 drops of coconut oil or olive oil. Keep 2-3 strands of saffron in one teaspoon of water overnight. By morning, colour of water will turn yellow. Then add milk,sugar and coconut oil/olive oil to this. Dip a piece of bread in this mixture and wipe your face with this piece of bread. Small pieces of bread can stick to your face but it will come off easily when you wash the face. Keep this mix on your face for 15 minutes. This saffron mask freshens up the dull complexion instantly. It helps to ease off dark circles and fatigue lines. The immediate benefits of applying this nourishing saffron mask is that it helps in blood circulation resulting in a glowing skin.
5. Soak up chirongi (Sunflower seeds) and saffron in milk overnight. Grind this mixture in the morning to apply on your skin. This face mask is very beneficial for making you skin fair and glowing.
6. Massage your face with malai(milk cream) with two strands of saffron added to it. On continuous use ,you will notice fairer and radiant skin all over.
7. If you mix few strands of saffron with milk and drink it regularly, your complexion will improve naturally.
8. You can mix few strands of saffron with olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil to massage your skin. Massaging your face with any of these oils gives lighter and softer skin.
9. You can mix one pinch of saffron with liquorice and milk. Apply this mix on your bald patches; this mask helps to arrest hair fall and promotes the growth of new hair.
10. Apply honey with few strands of saffron added to it. Massage your face with magical face mask that acts as a home facial. It is very powerful home remedy that provides oxygen to the skin stimulating blood circulation. Use this facial mask for getting luminous complexion.