Saffron, the red gold, is one of the products that are gaining strength in Menorca. This precious spice is one of the secrets of our island. Discover here what its properties are and discover the details of its flowering and harvesting by the hand of our hotel.
- What is saffron?
- History and origin
- Menorcan saffron
- The properties of saffron
- The Santa Margarita Estate
- Discover it!
- Our commitment
What is saffron?
In Greek mythology, a mortal named Krokos fell in love with the nymph Smilax; to please her, he painted himself and perfumed himself with saffron. Regardless of the reason, in anger, the God Hermes punished them by turning her into a yew tree and him into a purple flower: the Saffron flower.
Saffron is a spice derived from the three dried stigmas of the flower pistil of Crocus sativus, a species of the genus Crocus within the family Iridaceae. Saffron is characterised by its bitter taste and special aroma. It contains a carotenoid-type dye called crocin, which gives the food a golden yellow colour.
In Spain it is used as an indispensable component of paella, and is also used in the preparation of rice, meat and seafood. Saffron also has applications in medicine. Saffron reaches high prices because its cultivation, harvesting and handling are very delicate. Because of its high economic value it has been called red gold. About 200,000 saffron flowers are needed to make one kilogram of pure saffron. In 2010 the price of saffron in Spain was around 3,000 euros per kilo and in 2016 it was 5,000 euros.
History and origin
There are references to saffron dating from 2300 BC. From this date onwards, there are many different references to its use in religious rites and ceremonies, in medicine, in gastronomy, etc. It appears in many references throughout history and in all the main cultures. For example, a definitive identification of saffron dates from 1700-1600 BC in a painting in the palace of Minos at Knossos in Crete.
According to research by Egyptologists, it was already widely used in ancient Egypt. In the Songs of Solomon, the name Karkom was already mentioned as one of the most praised products of the plant kingdom. The Greek name Krokos and the Latin name Crocum (Crocus of the Poets) are related to this word, which may have come from India.
Menorcan saffron is probably one of the best kept secrets of this Balearic island, a corner of unquestionable beauty that manages to maintain, not without effort, a certain balance between the wealth that tourism brings and the destruction that it can cause when it becomes mass tourism.
In 2022, Minorca will be a European Gastronomic Region and it will be, to a great extent, thanks to its red gold, its saffron, an organic crop that has been maintained on the island since at least the 12th century; it is in November when the saffron flower blooms and remains so for 25 days, these are the days when it is harvested.
Currently 1 gram of saffron (one gram!) costs 15 euros, of course the amount we need to enrich our dishes is also minimal, especially if you use the best saffron in the world, Menorcan.
Menorcan saffron, fortified by the sea salts carried by our winds, apart from giving a sophisticated flavour to your dishes also provides health and wellbeing to your life. Did you know of its magnificent properties? It is an antioxidant, antidepressant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-aging, cardiovascular protector, digestive, invigorating for the nervous system...
The properties of saffron
Saffron, apart from having an exquisite and very peculiar taste, has other properties. Air pollution, tobacco smoke, herbicides, pesticides and certain fats are some examples of elements that generate free radicals that we ingest or inhale. These toxic substances damage cells and promote accelerated ageing. Saffron has a powerful antioxidant effect which comes from crocetine, crocodile and picrocrocine, which have the ability to bind to free radicals and neutralise them, giving protection to cells and boosting the immune system. Some curious facts are that saffron has much more vitamin C than an orange or that a gram of saffron has a thousand times more beta-carotene than a carrot. Medicines to cure glaucoma are even starting to be made from saffron.
Furthermore, point out, according to the website iSafra, this, together with Ginseng, are the only natural species that can really improve human sexual function. In the case of iSafra, a spice derived from the 'Crocus sativus' flower, it has been shown to have more properties, with a complete, physiological and psychological effect and in a sustained way on the stimulation of sexual drive and performance.
And not only does it fight aging and can help us in our intimate life, but it also stimulates the metabolism and is a cardiovascular protector. It is an anti-depressant and a nervous system tonic, containing sedative properties. It promotes the digestive functions, regulates the gastric juices so it is able to stimulate the appetite, improve in case of heavy digestions and favours the expulsion of gases. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory.
The Santa Margarita farm
In the town of Es Mercadal, on the Santa Margarita estate, owned by Mercedes Montañés Marino, agricultural expert Omar Zola Antonino grows the purest saffron on the Balearic Islands. Omar arrived in Menorca from Italy in 2012. After years of fighting with the land and long researches to get the results he wanted, he got the saffron he was looking for.
Through a totally artisan process, without additives or chemicals, they have obtained iSafra with First Category Certification granted by the authorized control body of the Laboratorio Chimico Merceologico della Sardegna.
It is the first saffron from Minorca for 300 years, a product with the interest to give a solution to economic and social problems, produced by the imbalance that has meant the disappearance of the real agriculture. One of its main objectives is to return the essence of the original product so that we can all enjoy it as something exclusive, close, of high quality and, above all, healthy.
iSafra's saffron has been grown, collected and packed on the island of Menorca; enhanced by the salt of the sea winds. It is a 100% local product, something that in our establishment we are very interested in. The commitment with the local product is one of the premises of the Hotel Rural Morvedra Nou.
It is one thing to simply grow saffron, and quite another to make the best saffron in the world, with a powerful colour (crocina 260), greater flavour (picrocrocina 99) and aroma (safranale 31). And this last one is what, with patience and love, they have made.
We want to invite you to a world that perhaps, is unknown to you: the saffron of Menorca. On our island, November is the ideal month to experience its blossoming as well as its harvesting first hand, and also to be able to photograph it. We offer you the possibility to know, from the hand of Omar Zola, everything there is to know about the world of saffron.
We will visit the saffron fields to know in detail how it blooms. Then you will be able to observe first hand how the three pistils that would be the saffron itself are cut. To finish this visit in the most complete way, you will be able to taste this saffron in an infusion and diverse elaborations to taste it in all its potential.
You can discover it, in the guide visits Farmers&Co Menorca does, you can book online and ask for more information also callling 679872848
The Hotel Rural Morvedra Nou has the Biosphere Reserve of Menorca brand and is a member of the Spanish Ecotourism Association (AEE) for its commitment to sustainable and quality tourism.
The activities proposed in the programme aim to raise awareness of the natural values of the island (its biodiversity and different ecosystems), with the aim that this will serve to promote respect and knowledge about local nature and its products.