Saffron (Crocus sativus L.). Perennial tuber, bulbous plant of the family (irises). Motherland – Asia Minor. In the wild, now is not found. It is cultivated in Spain, southern France, Italy, Turkey, Iran, India, Pakistan, China and Japan. In Russia, there are plantations of saffron on the southern coast of Crimea.
As a spice used stigmas of saffron flowers (each flower – three stigmas). To do this, collect only that the flowers bloom. And the tear in dry weather, at 10-11 o'clock in the morning, be sure to manually, and then on the same day, a few hours pluck from the stigmas of these flowers and dried them in dryer or no more than 15 minutes, or at room temperature for about an hour. In order to collect 100 grams of saffron, it is necessary to break from 5 to 8,000 flowers and let them pass through his hands twice, in other words – to produce 1 kilogram of saffron should handle 80,000 plants! Ready saffron represents well dried, brittle, randomly entangled with each other a dark red-brown and light yellow threads. The darker saffron, the fewer impurities it pale yellow filaments (stamens), the better the quality. At the touch of saffron mass must be at least oily.
Strong smell of saffron, aromatic, slightly intoxicating, the taste – bitter and spicy. Since ancient times many peoples saffron was considered "King of Plants". He was unusually expensive – 15 times more expensive than black pepper. Saffron was used as a fragrance, dye ("Saffron" in Arabic – "yellow"), a precious medicine, and a fine seasoning for food. mainly as a spice, and partly as a food dye to tint butter, cheese, liquors and some soft drinks. In Europe, the U.S. and saffron are used mainly in confectionary production, adding to cookies, muffins, cakes, buns, as well as to give emphasis liqueur mousse, fruit and gravy and pastry cream. In the east, saffron is widely used for cooking meat and chicken, rice and vegetable dishes. Azerbaijani and Tajik pilaf, of meat and chicken, and eggplant and Bean food additives require saffron. In modern European cuisine turmeric is used in dishes of stewed and boiled fish of valuable species and the sweet rice pudding. Saffron does not fit well with other spices and are therefore not included in the of spice mixtures, and is used almost always alone. Introduction of saffron in a particular dish should always exclude the introduction of other spices, if there are no special instructions in the recipe. Saffron is used in very small doses because it is very "strong" spice. Violation of rules bookmark it may corrupt taste of the dish – it will be unpleasantly bitter. The annual intake of saffron for one person may not exceed one gram. Hence it is clear how small must the dose of saffron in the dish. To obtain such low doses, turmeric is administered in food is not dry, but in the form of solutions. To do this at the beginning of the saffron dissolved in alcohol, harvest alcohol tincture of saffron, and then, when necessary, dilute it with water and alcohol tincture is administered at the main meal during their preparation (for 4-5 minutes until cooked), and farinaceous dishes in the dough (from calculation of 0.1 grams per kilogram of 1-1,5 baked goods).