As it was hundreds of years ago the blossom of the Kashmirian crocus are being collected by hand. The snouts of this flower which are reminding the customary cowslips in the western gardens are the raw material for producing the world's most expensive spice called saffron. Unlike the crocuses in the northern regions the saffron crocus breaks out blossoming in autumn. Each flower has only three snouts that should be removed carefully and dried. These snouts are to be harvested only on the first day of blossoming. If one imagines the whole process it will become clear why is saffron that expensive.
One gram of natural saffron costs approximately 10 USD. Each gram of saffron contains about four hundred dried snouts called verves. The people of the most ancient times knew how to use saffron. The ancient healers used saffron as the remedy that could help the people with cataract. Saffron was also considered to treat intoxication and flu. It was used as afrodisiac and general tonic substance. The manuscripts on medicine dated 1500 B. C. Mention saffron as pain killer and diaphoretic drug. The snouts of saffron are not only the necessary constituent of the trivial recipes of remedies but are also used in the pharmaceutical industry. It is also known to be the best medication for treating heart diseases. The favorable effect of saffron on the digestive system is acknowledged not only be the doctors but also by the cooks. This spice can improve the memory as well. Saffron goes good with hot milk. The scented hot beverage made of milk and saffron snouts will improve the brain functioning.
Saffron is a drastic substance so one should use it carefully. For example it is not recommended to eat saffron for the pregnant women as it may turn out to be a cause of miscarriage.
It is also a good natural colorant and scented balm. The most effective cosmetic creams and serums contain saffron.
The lotions, facial masks, creams containing saffron make the skin look younger, smoother and shiny. It reduces the redness and inflammation caused by acne.
Possessing the specific bright taste and rich aroma saffron can't match the tastes of the other spice. To make the scent deeper the snouts of saffron are warmed up on a hot metal pan, than they are cut into the tiny pieces and thrown into the hot water of milk. After that the whole mixture is added to the dish.
In the modern cuisine saffron in used in various dishes from desserts to the meat main courses. The distinct and rich taste of this Eastern spice adds the piquancy to the most simple and plain food. One can even find saffron ice-cream. This spice is traditionally added to pilaff, an Eastern variant of risotto with meat pieces.
If you are not quite sure if to use saffron while cooking homemade meals try to cook plain rice with vegetables. Saffron will provide not only the bright taste but also gives the rich golden color.