The origin and natural habitat of safflower
Safflower with its bright yellow-reddish-brown flowers were used primarily to replace saffron and, like turmeric,as natural food colouring. The seeds of safflower contain valuable oils, which is why in some places this plant with a mild smell and taste is known for its oil. Its natural habitat is the tropics of Africa, but today cultivated areas can be found in both subtropical and warm temperate regions, as well as in sunny, not very high-altitude areas. For example, in Hungary, there are several larger safflower areas in the Mátra mountains.
What foods can safflower be used for?
The safflower seeds add a strong colour to the food, so it is amazing looking rice, potatoes and pasta dishes can be made with it. The moderate dosage of the safflower results in a yellow, more intense use results in a red colour.
- It helps to improve digestion which is beneficial in soups, stews, and in one-course dishes made from cabbage and legumes.
- It makes the overall flavours more harmonious, so it can be used in a wide variety of dishes, like soups, vegetables or pasta.
- It is also important in cheese making due to its strong colouring quality.
- As it also makes sweet and savory cakes tastier, it is mainly used in confectionery for this purpose, as well as by winemakers, as safflower seeds on their own have a quite neutral taste, so it does not suppress the flavour of various types of wine.
- Due to this property, it can be used creatively with the strong aromas and flavours of both Far Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, it does not take away the delicious flavours of curry, fenugreek, rosemary, basil, thyme, but even black pepper or chili.
- Thanks to its powerful anticatarrhal effect, it is one of the ingredients in herbal tea blends based on traditional medicine.