From ancient times, saffron has been used for its extra ordinary aroma and flavor in different dishes. Recently, with a trend toward organic and natural food additives, using saffron instead of chemical additives as a natural colorant and flavorant has been increase dramatically.
The distinct color of saffron is one of the characteristics of Iranian and Spanish dishes. It is used in soups, rice dishes, pastries and variety of other dishes.
Arabs are using saffron even in their tea.
Arabs and Indians are the biggest consumers of saffron. Italians are using saffron in their famous Risotto rice dish. Spanish are using it in their paella dish. There are other European countries that are using saffron in a variety of cakes, pastries, drinks and even perfume. In United State, saffron is used as a natural color additive to sausages, shortenings and margarines.
The purple color agent of saffron flower is used in used in different industries.
There are different chemical components present in the stigma of saffron. In addition to general components such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, saffron obtains specific components which build the characteristic of this herb. In this regard two points should be considered:
1- Type and amount of these chemical components determine the quality of the final product.
2- Measuring and monitoring these chemicals provide a great way of controlling the production process. Some of these components are as follow:
Medical and pharmaceutical applications
From ancient times, saffron is known for its great medical properties. It helps digestion; it is a great tranquilizer, cures insomnia, strengthens memory power, improves concentration, reacts against spasm, fights depression, controls blood pressure, lowers high cholesterol level, reduces the chances of heart disease helps blood circulation in the retina and many many other medical advantages.
The application of saffron in cancer treatment has been studied on the lab animals. Saffron has shown to have positive effects on the cancerous cells.