It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The most expensive item we can find to feast on

(from Koehler's Medicinal-Plants, 1887)

is the Saffron that can be used as a spice, a perfume, medicine and also as a dye.
A Chinese medical book from ca 2600 B.C. contains the oldest known reference to saffron. Egyptians wrote about it ca 1500 B.C. and the crocus plants were grown in the gardens at Luxor in order to get saffron. Saffron crocus blooms in the early fall. The flowers have to be collected early in the morning before it gets too warm. Then the stigmas must be picked from the flower during the same day before the aroma disappears (it contains more than 150 volatile and aroma yielding compounds). The flower and pistil collection needs to be done by hand. It takes a couple of years for a crocus bulb to flower and the bulb must be replanted after another couple of years. About 150 000 flowers are needed to produce one kilogram saffron. Saffron types are graded by quality according to laboratory measurements of such characteristics as crocin (colour), picrocrocin (taste), and safranal (fragrance) content.
Saffron is used in baking both as a spice and a dye, and is especially valued in Asia and Middle East. Saffron also plays an important roll in the Holiday food preparation in Northern Europe.
Saffron buns will be served at the BI-Holiday party on December 11th.

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