What You Need to Know and Can Do with Saffron

Find out all you need to know about saffron, the most expensive yet versatile spice on the list!

One of the most well-known and expensive spices in the world, saffron imbues any dish with a rich honeyed taste and vibrant yellow colour. Whether your taste buds run towards the Western or Asian spectrum, the spice marries well with just anything – curries, briyani, risotto, and even delightful cakes! And if you are feeling under the weather, add a teaspoon of it to a cup of boiling water and sip on soothing saffron tea.

1 Its origins

The saffron crocus can bear up to four purple flowers. Each flower sports three crimson stigmas, which are plucked and dried out to form what is, by weight, the most expensive spice in
the world.

2  Strands of gold

More pricey than truffles, it takes about 100,000 saffron flowers to yield just one kilogramme of spice. Almost half a kilogramme will cost you from USD2,000 to USD10,000 – approximately RM8,5000 to RM45,000!

3  Suss out fakes

Genuine strands will have a characteristic smell, which may come off slightly bitter at first, says Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison from the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics. But give it time and you’ll soon pick up the underlying honey-rich floral notes. Also, the Research Journal of Forensic Sciences has found that authentic saffron strands will colour water yellow due to their carotenoid pigments.

4  Laundry hack

Given the spice’s potent colour, don’t be surprised to find yellow spots on your clothes! If that happens, move quick – mix stain remover liquid and washing powder into a paste. Use a toothbrush to scrub the stain out with the paste, but be careful not to rub beyond the affected area or it’ll spread. Then, leave the garment to soak in a bucket of hot, soapy water overnight. Wash it normally the next day and it should be as good as new.

5  Keep it fresh

Place saffron strands in an airtight container and wrap it in foil if it’s transparent. You’ll want to store it in a cool and dry environment to give it a shelf life of up to two years.

6  Mood booster

Feeling a little low of late? The Journal of Human Psychopharmacology revealed that consuming the spice has proven to be effective in treating low-to-mild depression.

Happy heart

High in nutrients and antioxidants, The Journal of Tehran University Heart Centre has found that drinking saffron tea could help lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases! In addition, the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine reported that saffron has anticancer properties thanks to its high content of carotenoids, the orange pigment that gives it a vibrant yellow hue.

Radiant skin

Why stop at the face when you can extend saffron’s antioxidant benefits to the rest of your body? Just throw in a teaspoon of saffron in three cups of olive oil – or any oil of your choice – and let it sit in a dry and cool place for two weeks. The infusion won’t just give you a top-to-toe glow but will be a much-needed aid for back acne!

Healthy strands

To help combat alopecia, also known as partial or complete balding, the World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research suggests a concoction of milk, saffron, and licorice to stimulate hair growth!

10  Warm and mellow

For the perfect rainy-day cuppa, heat up a glass of milk in a saucepan before throwing in a pinch of cardamom and saffron. Those suffering from insomnia would do well to down this concoction as well, as saffron has therapeutic qualities – you’ll be counting sheep in no time!

11  Spot-free 

If you notice a fresh spot on your cheek or chin, grind six strands and mix it with two tablespoons of non-flavoured yogurt or honey for an acne-fighting mask! Sporting brightening properties, this mask would also be great for fading acne scars.

Pic credit: Stockfood