Saffron cultivation was resumed in the Maremma thanks to some initiatives of local producers. The Crocus Maremma Association was founded to promote this ancient culture and include it in the list of organic farm products. Under the same weight conditions, a carrot contains only a thousandth of carotenoids contained in saffron.
Safran, zuffran, zafoura, zafferano. The name has remained the same since ancient times, in different languages, to define the spice derived from the dried stigma of the intense red–purpleflower that, when thrown in water, slowly turns to golden-yellow.
In Italy, it is currently cultivated in Abruzzo, Sardinia, and Tuscany. In Tuscany, Maremma extra-pure saffron is cultivated, and resumed a tradition of the Middle Ages, when it was mainly used to dye clothes.
Saffron was used for therapeutic purposes inancient times and it still is today in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. It is rich in antioxidants and carotenoids, which are considered to have anti-tumor properties. Some evidence?
Many scientific studies confirm that these agents are effective against free radicals, which damage cells and cause aging. In addition to lowering cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, saffron improves digestion, relieves menstrual pain, has sedative properties, and is recommended as an expectorant to fight bronchitis.
Saffron bulbs are buried in the ground in full summer, around the middle of August. The flowers, of an intense lilac color, bloom at night in October and November, a ritual that lasts two weeks. The three red–purplefilaments (stigma) in the middle of the flower are the essence of saffron.To preserve all the properties and flavor of the stigma, the harvest is carried out when the flower is still closed, with the first rays of every dawn.
Once the stigma is taken to a dry place, it is delicately separated from the flower and dried overcharcoal fires or in a dryer. Processing of saffron, from harvesting to drying, is done by hand with great commitment. It takes at least 150 flowers to produce one gram of dried saffron; this is why it is known as “Red Gold” in popular tradition.
The our extra-pure saffron is recommended with rice dishes: paella, Milanese rice, or Indian pilaf. It also goes well with fish and steamed potatoes. It can also be used for baking, with tasty results. Unlike the industrial production saffron, organic saffron needs more patience to send out fragrance and a golden-yellow hue.
You should put the stigma in a cup, pour boiled water or broth (1-2 ladles) into it, and let it rest for 30 minutes. The ritual is done: saffron is ready for use.
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