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The most expensive spice in the world


I’ve heard a lot about all sorts of spices and spices, but I did not realize that saffron is the most expensive spice. However, if you find out how it is mined, there is nothing surprising here. At the same time, let’s add to our moneybox itself .

Homeland of saffron is considered to be Asia Minor, Middle East, India. This plant was grown in the East long before our era. It is still common in Syria, Palestine, Persia. They knew him in ancient Egypt. The mention of him is found in the writings of Solomon, Homer and Hippocrates. There is also not only in the writings of the Sumerian civilization, but painting on the walls of the Palace of Knossos in Crete, dating back to 1500 BC, depicts people collecting saffron. Description of the medicinal properties of saffron, is in Chinese medical books dating back to 2600 BC. e. and in the Egyptian texts dated 1500 BC. e. In the Song of Songs he is mentioned amongst fragrant herbs, he was used as an incense and precious medicine, he became the color of the clothing of the followers of the Buddha (after his death), he was presented,

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During the Crusades (1096-1270) crocus was brought to Europe, where it was grown in the countries of the Western Mediterranean. For many centuries the crocus seed, that is saffron, remained the only representative of the genus, which in the eyes of mankind was of economic, but by no means decorative value. Finally in the XVI century. In the botanical gardens of Europe, the first decorative crocuses appeared: narrow-leaved, yellow and spring. The trinity of the first decorative species gave rise to a great variety of varieties, among which the leading position is occupied by groups of Dutch hybrids and Chrysanthus.

Saffron has been known since time immemorial, it is mentioned in the Egyptian papyri, in the books of Solomon, from Homer, from Hippocrates. Saffron was known not only as a fragrance, as a paint for matter, as an exquisite seasoning used in royal kitchens, but also as a precious medicine.

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</ p>It is known that the yellow shoes of the kings of Media, Babylon, Persia were painted with saffron and under these kings the saffron was known as a medicinal plant. In addition, yellow dresses, edgings of dresses and bedspreads were painted.

Jews also highly valued saffron. In Hebrew it was called the kachkot, from which the Greek name of the crocodile originated. In ancient Greek mythology, there are many legends about saffron.

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</ p>Argonaut Jason, intending to plow in Colchis by bulls, who are flashing the flame, threw off the yellow-saffron clothes in which he was dressed. The Eastern god Bacchus wore a saffron-colored dress and exactly the same dresses were worn by the participants of the feasts dedicated to him. During the marriage of Zeus with the Hero on Mount Ide, saffron grew on earth, just as the lotus and hyacinth rose. The Homer’s Iliad says:

And in the arms of strong Zeus concludes his wife. Quickly under them the land grew flowering grass. Lotus dewy, saffron and hyacinth flowers thick. Flexible, which the gods raised from the earth. The goddess of the dawn of the Eos (Aurora Romans) was clothed in golden-yellow clothes, painted with saffron.

According to Philon, Krokos was a friend of the god of Mercury. But one day, while playing the disc, Mercury accidentally slammed Crocos into the forehead and the ground, colored with the blood of Crocus, grew saffron. There are many other similar legends about saffron.

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</ p>Publius Ovid Nason mentions in his poetry about saffron many times. Due to its high price saffron served as an indicator of the manifestation of the insane wastefulness of the Roman emperors.

So, Galiobal ​​swam in ponds, the water of which was perfumed with saffron. During the feasts, he and his guests were reclining on cushions stuffed with saffron. In the halls where these feasts took place, the floors also sprinkled with saffron. During the procession of Petronius on the holiday of the slaves sprinkled his road with saffron.

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</ p>According to the ancient Greek legend, the appearance of saffron occurred as follows. A young man named Krok practiced with the herald of the Olympic gods Hermes in throwing a disc. During the competition, the disc accidentally landed in Crocus, and the young man was killed. From his blood, spilled on the ground, rose a flower of crocus (saffron). Saffron mesh – Crocus reticulatus Steven ex Adams. representative of the Kasatikov family (Irisov). Of the closest most common of his relatives – Saffron seeded. In culture, he is known for more than 4 thousand years. Used as a seasoning for various foods.

It gives the rice and dough a unique delicate taste and aroma, colors them in the color of a ripe, juicy orange. As spices, saffron uses bright orange stigmas. Stigmas of saffron flowers contain an essential oil with a pleasant smell and taste, as well as colorants (crocin, saffronin). Crokin dissolving in water, gives it yellow, and saffronin – a red color. Since ancient times, the stigma of the saffron has received paint, which dyed the clothes of royal people in a dazzlingly yellow color. According to the myth of the Argonauts, Jason also dressed in a yellow-and-saffron tunic, preparing to plow on fire-breathing bulls.

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</ p>With the development of trade in the XIII century, saffron finally established itself in Italy, where it began to grow for use in dyeing shops, as well as for medical purposes, since saffron was attributed all sorts of properties from soothing to old age aversive.

In Umbria saffron appeared also in the XIII century, as evidenced by the edict of 1279, which forbids foreigners from growing saffron in the Perugia lands. Here is such protectionism in relation to the local population. In 1537 another law appears, according to which all saffron producers must inform local authorities about the quantities of flowers collected and, in accordance with it, pay tax. Further, by itself, it is explained what will happen to those who conceal the truth. Two years later the tax was levied also by sellers and buyers of saffron. At that time, the center of trade was Kashia and Citta della Pieve, also known as weaving, and, consequently, dyeing. So you can imagine how the treasury was enriched due to the delicate colors of crocus.

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</ p>It is also mentioned about saffron in the legend of Valentine.

It is said that in fact the saints Valentinov, who died in Ancient Rome in 269 (according to other sources in 270) and worshiped on the same day, there were two. Acts of them have long been a legend, and now no one can remember exactly which of them was celebrated. It is only known that one of them, more young, was in Rome a preacher and a doctor. During the persecution of the Christians of the Emperor Claudius, he was executed.

Another Valentine, Bishop of Terni, lived near Rome and died martyr’s death at the hands of the Gentiles in the same year 269 (270).

In ancient Rome, once lived a doctor named Valentine. He was called a “gastronomic doctor”, because He was always concerned that the medicines he prescribed to take the patients had a pleasant taste. To add a delicious taste to medicines, he mixed bitter medicines with wine, milk or honey. He washed the wounds with wine and used herbs to relieve pain.

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St. Valentine was also a preacher. And although in those days Christians in Rome were persecuted, he became a priest. Valentine lived in the time of Claudius II, famous for his many aggressive warriors. When Claudius had problems with recruiting new soldiers into the army, he decided that the reason lies in the soldiers’ attachment to their wives and families. And he canceled weddings and engagements.

And Valentin began not only to pray for the health of his patients, but also to secretly marry couples in love. Once the jailer of the Roman emperor knocked on Valentine’s door. He held his blind daughter by the hand. He learned about the wonderful treatment of Valentine, and begged Valentine to heal her daughter of blindness. Valentine knew that the girl’s ailment was practically incurable, but he gave his word that he would do everything possible to cure her. He appointed a girl ointment for the eyes, and said to come again after a while. A few weeks passed, but the sight to the girl never came back. However, the jailer and his daughter did not doubt their faith in Dr. Valentine and continued to take the prescribed herbs and infusions.

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And at this time the emperor heard rumors about the secret weddings that Valentin spent. And one day, Roman soldiers broke into Valentine’s home, destroyed medicines and took him under arrest.

When the father of a sick girl found out about the arrest of Valentine, he wanted to intervene, but was unable to help. Valentine knew that he would soon be executed. He asked the jailer for paper, pen and ink and quickly wrote a farewell love letter to the girl. Valentine was executed on the same day, February 14.

When the jailer returned home, he was met by his daughter. The girl opened the note and found inside her yellow saffron (crocus). In a note it was written “From your Valentine”. The girl took the saffron in her hand, and his sparkling colors lit up her face. A miracle happened: the girl’s vision was restored.

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One of the legends says that God Hermes was in love with a beautiful young man, but accidentally killed him. On the spot where blood was spilled, crocus or saffron grew. According to another version, Crocus was in love with a nymph and they never parted. When the gods were tired of watching them, they turned a nymph into a bush, and a young man into a beautiful plant, which later became known as saffron.

According to the Buddhist legend, saffron was born in Kashmir (India, by the way, is often called the birthplace of this amazing flower), brought it from heaven, from Mount Blagovonna, the Arhat Nimatun and sowed in this country.

Biblical Chronicles II (9: 1) states: “When the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon in 992 BC, she appeared accompanied by a huge suite, with a camel caravan, laden spices, gold and precious stones. And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, many spices and precious stones: and there was not such a spice that the Queen of Sheba did not present to King Solomon. ”

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</ p>Saffron in Umbria

About 15 years ago the question arose about the revival of the ancient tradition of growing saffron in Umbria, lost several centuries earlier. The issue was taken up by Professors of the Agrarian Faculty of the University of Perugia, as well as the Association of Perugia Farmers. Together they founded the Association of Saffron Kashia, established the strictest rules for the production of spices, based on historical evidence. Now the association includes 25 saffron producers, but any farmer who wants to start making saffron in accordance with centuries-old traditions can join it.

Saffron – a very expensive spice, because to get 1 gram you need to collect more than 200 colors, then gently clean them from the petals, and the resulting stamens warm up at controlled temperature until they turn into powder. So it turns out that a kilogram of saffron costs 10.000 – 13.000 euros. As well, that for example, a risotto for 4 people needs only 0.1 grams.

It is necessary to distinguish real saffron from other “similar” spices, which are often confused with saffron (or try to pass one after another). If you are trying to sell a suspiciously cheap saffron in threads, then this is American safflower or marigolds – the so-called Imeritin saffron, an independent and very respected in the Caucasus spice, which has a very similar yellow-red color. In Iran, for the forgery of this product, their hands were cut off. But the traders, thirsting for money, it did not scare. And to fake it is not so difficult.

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Here’s a couple of examples!

Saffron Imeritinsky is better known as Tagetes, a plant of the Astro family.

Safflower (safflower, Carthamus tinctorius) is known as American saffron or as it is also called “Mexican saffron”. Petals are used more often as a dye, for example, in the production of caramel, as well as in tea mixtures. This spice is used as a substitute for natural saffron in the countries of North Africa, Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus.

Finely ground turmeric root (Curcuma). Turmeric (a plant of the genus ginger), which is sometimes called “Indian saffron”, is considered one of the basic spices of India. One of its species – turmeric – is widely used in cooking (ground rhizome).

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</ p>And by the way, the most famous mixture of “hops-suneli” is added just these herbs, calling them saffron. Sometimes in the mixture it is even possible to distinguish separate parts – petals of safflower, for example.
When buying, be careful and follow what you buy. Note that the expensive stigmas of crocus saffron before selling almost never grind, then turmeric and safflower – on the contrary.

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</ p>In finely grinded form, it is almost impossible to distinguish natural saffron from a substitute. This requires a whole alchemical laboratory. The minimum indicators, which determine the quality – color, taste, smell. And only the most serious manufacturers of spices put their quality mark on saffron. And so the first advice:

Saffron should be bought only in stigmas (by no means ground).

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But even in this case you will still try to deceive. This is an extremely expensive spice and you can sell the spices listed above under the guise of saffron. Well, or at best, mix with them real saffron and sell this kind of a bojadzhennu mix (sorry for the slang words).

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Hence the second conclusion:
Buy spices in stores from well-known manufacturers in sealed packaging and never on the street! Remember, real saffron can not be cheap!

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If we mean that there is a real saffron in the box, then it is worth analyzing the contents of the following parameters in order to determine the quality.

  • The correct saffron is the upper part (stigma) of the pistil of the Crocus flowers of the inoculum, painted in a dark purple-red color. Each stigma is an upwardly opening tubule with a jagged upper edge.
  • Finished spice often consists of tangled balls of stigma 3-5 cm long, solitary or sitting on three on a light yellow base. In this case, the light lower part, which does not contain the dye, should not exceed 1 cm. Usually, dry tubes are flattened, making it look like a thread expanding to one end up to 1-2 mm thick. Sell ​​saffron most often in transparent hermetic packages, but usually a characteristic bitter-spicy smell is felt through any packaging.
  • The second grade of saffron – fragments and small parts of stigmas, which are sold in sachets, boxes and sachets. He loses the first grade only because spice loses an attractive presentation, and grinding is associated with a partial loss of essential oil.
  • The third grade is ground saffron. For grinding use all the small parts, even the yellow unpainted legs and dust.
  • Forge everything – and a whole saffron and packaging. Often, any saffron is given for “saffron La Mancha”. In the course are cotton threads, cut plastic, cut dry petals of other plants – poppy, pomegranate, even the roots of leeks, etc. The most common falsification is turmeric powder and safflower flowers with the inscription “saffron”.
  • It is even easier to forge ground saffron – it is sold too moist for weight gain, diluted with salt, starch, various chemical dyes from ground paprika and sandalwood to brick dust – everything goes into business.
  • So you need to buy saffron only in the most trustworthy places and with proven manufacturers.

Here – stunning in its detail test for the naturalness of two kinds of saffron, one of which is not saffron at all.

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At left, a woman holds the saffron crocus during the saffron harvest in Herat, Afghanistan. At right, saffron flowers are collected in Saint Hippolyte, eastern France. Since the stigmas need to be picked from the flowers by hand, saffron is the world’s most expensive spice.

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