Saffron is a plant with scientific name of “Crocus Sativies” which called “King of spices and Red Gold”. In fact, saffron spices are dried stigmas of saffron flowers . Every flower has three stigmas.
The upper part of the saffron stigma is red and the lower parts are orange, yellow and white at the end. In addition to its wonderful medicinal properties, saffron has an excellent aroma and pleasant taste that caused golden and yellow color in foods.
The best environment for cultivating saffron is cool dry climate and rich soil with organic fertilizers. Another item in cultivating saffron crops is the quick nutrient depletion of the soil. These problems contribute to the rarity of the saffron, thus leading to its limited production.
The harvesting time of the saffron is autumn. In October, between one and three flowers appear per saffron flower plant. the color of the flowers is purple and has six petals, each flower has three saffron stigmas. Saffron is a valuable spice which its origins relate of the several thousand years ago in “Mede” era in Zagros Mountains of Iran.
This plant in different location of Asia, especially southwest of Asia, south of Europe and south of Spain.
Saffron is also a wonderful, tasty and colorful spice that is used by chefs in the world’s top restaurants.
Saffron gives any food intense flavor, aroma and bright orange-yellow color.Only a small amount of saffron is needed in cooking recipes. Only a few grams are needed to provide flavor to several dishes. However, due to saffron’s intense flavor and strong coloring power, it must be used carefully.
Ninety-five percent of the world’s saffron comes from Iran. It has traditionally been grown in Khorasan, an area about the size of England in the north-east of Iran with ideal soil and climate conditions for the crop.
Every day during the one-month harvest season that starts around mid-October more than four hundred thousand people in Khorasan get up before dawn to go to the fields and pick the beautiful delicate lilac flowers that have bloomed morn. They must be picked before being exposed to too much sunshine. The flowers are then carried in wicker baskets to the processing areas where the stigmas are patiently removed by hand. Only one ounce of All Red Saffron needs a lot of efforts, tough labor and picking more than 7,000 Purple Saffron Flowers. The red threads of the flowers should be hand-picked individually and dried completely.
The next step is dry the stigmas in before they are tested, sorted, packed and sealed until insuring that the full, unique and exquisite flavor, aroma and color of this “red gold” reaches the consumer.
Types of Persian Saffron
Saffron is one of the honorific products in Iran and it is the most expensive and luxurious spice in the world. Weight for weight saffron can cost more than gold. Hence, saffron has been called the red gold.
Pure saffron contains just the stigma of the flower of Crocus sativus with no any other artificial ingredients added, so expensive, and it has a brownish red to dark orange color. Its coloring capabilities come from the saffron threads’ red portion and not the yellow part which is actually left uncut in some lower grade saffron.
Persian saffron is not comparable with other types because of its excellent flavor, color and outstanding quality. Iran is the biggest producers and exporters of Saffron. Iran covers about 95% of the world’s 250 tons of saffron production annually. It is said that classical Persian is the first language that use of saffron word
Types of Persian saffron
The most expensive type of Saffron is Negin. The saffron threads are longer, and trimmed perfectly to eliminate any yellow style. Negin is all-red in color and contains little to no crumbs. The primary difference is that sargol saffron is shorter than Negin. This type of Saffron is high-quality, for its thickness and dark fully red filaments
Is known as “top of the flower”, it is the very tip trim of the Saffron thread. Sargol is all-red in color, however, the stigma is shorter and often contains some crumbs. All-Red saffron or Sargol Saffron is made up of red stigmas which have been equally cut and separated after drying. Saffron stigmas that are cut this way give maximum natural dye, aroma and flavor in baking and cooking
cheapest type of Iranian Saffron, This brand is also mostly red stigmas, along with a small amount of yellow style , in fact contains lots of yellow and orange style. This yellow portion of the saffron stigma contains no culinary or medicinal benefit which is why the cost is lower. Additionally, you’re paying for added weight because the yellow and orange portion of the thread contain higher levels of moisture
Only yellow style. This brand has the aroma of saffron, but barely has any coloring ability
This is also known as “Dateshi saffron”. Although BUNCH Saffron is not commonly sold in retail, it’s possible to purchase it from select distributors. Dateshi is the whole saffron stigma that is untrimmed and bundled together. It contains lots of yellow and orange style. In fact a small amount of red stigmas plus a lot of yellow style and Possesses lower quality
Pure saffron is classified as the following:
Grade 1: All red saffron that contains stigmas only. This is our 100% Premium Saffron.
Grade 2: Contains the red stigmas and connected to the end part of the style that is yellow/ white in color.
Grade 3: Contains the red stigmas connected to the entire style.
Grade 4: the whole saffron stigma that is untrimmed and bundled together. It contains lots of yellow and orange style
The features of Persian Saffron threads are:
Threads and its smell is good and fresh.
There are not broken-off saffron threads.
When you touch Saffron threads, they are dry and brittle.
No other yellow or white plant parts mixed in with the red threads.
Quality of saffron
Saffron has a variant chemical structure. It consists of carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, proteins and antioxidants and a good source of riboflavin.
Chemical composition of saffron has unique qualities and it is a rich source of the B group of vitamins. But more important perhaps are its properties of color, aroma and taste. The effective elements of saffron are Crocin, Saffronal and Picrocrocin.
What does a saffron spice consumer need to do in order to get the best saffron? We would like you to know the truth about saffron.
Quality of saffron evaluated according to the measurements of specialized laboratory and through examination of specification classified including Crocin (color factor) Picrocrocin (the bitter taste of saffron) and Safranal (the factor of perfume and scent saffron).
Other factors which effect on quality of saffron are: remained of flower of saffron and some other external non- organic compositions of (saffron ash).
Global standards No.3632 part 1, 2 for classification and gradation of saffron has been developed by international organization ISO.
Grading of saffron is done through gauging Picrocrocin (flavor), Crocin (color) and Safranal (aroma) content. This is done in the laboratory by ISO professionals, and the higher the number of these 3 factors means the higher the saffron quality.
For your information, International Organization for Standardization or ISO is a global confederation of national standard giving bodies that set saffron classification based on the minimum prerequisites of every quality. This is referred to as ISO 3632.
Standards for Saffron Classification
ISO 3632 exclusively deals with saffron and sets up 4 grades of color intensity such as IV (lowest), III, II and I (purest and finest saffron quality).
Saffron Classification gauges the level of 440-nm light absorbency by using samples of dray saffron. High absorbencies mean that there is a high concentration of crocin and high intensity of color. These variables are gauged through Spector-photometer details at testing laboratories around the world.
Power of color saffron is the most important factor of classification. Coloring power is mainly produced by crocin and it is one of the few naturally occurring carotenoids easily soluble in water. This water solubility is one of the reasons for its widely preferred application as a colorant in food and medicine.
The principal element giving saffron its special bitter flavor is the picrocrocin. And it is the factor of taste of saffron and in 207 nm. Wavelength is measured.
Saffron has a strong aroma which is produced by certain special volatile oils and essences. The main aroma factor in saffron is safranal, which comprises about 60% of the volatile components of saffron.
Safranal is a volatile liquid oil which produces a light yellow spot in water vapor and is readily soluble in ethanol, methanol and petroleum ether.
In order to extract the ethereal oils of saffron it is dissolved in pure water and distilled in a CO2 current. The distillate is separated with ether, which is then removed by heat. The oil obtained is a yellow liquid with a strong aroma of saffron. This substance is a terpen, which is highly susceptible to oxidization and must be stored under special conditions.
Safranal is the factor of odor of saffron and in 330 nm. Wavelength is measured.
AryaFarin Saffron is prepared from the best classified by ISO which has the highest quality and power of color.
AryaFarin group has always tried to present a product with the highest rate of qualities in whole filament and powder shapes, relying on its expertise and facilities as the best producer and exporter of saffron from origin.
Conditions for storage of saffron
Always keep the saffron in a cool and dry place away from sunlight. Likewise, you should not expose it to moisture.
The best way to store saffron is to put it in a clean, airtight container, in a cool and dry place. When fresh saffron is exposed to high levels of moisture and humidity it starts losing its properties in a short period of time. The same goes for saffron that is left exposed to oxygen. This is one of the reasons why you should use a small container where air cannot circulate freely. So, after you store it in a special container, you should keep it in a cool and dry place away from sunlight. The best option is to keep the container in a kitchen cabinet or drawer that is not exposed to sunlight directly. In addition, use a cabinet or drawers made of wood because metal can easily absorb heat.
It is worth mentioning that saffron can last for more than three years if it is stored properly. However, Saffron is best when consumed within the first two years. After this period of time, it will start losing its effects.
There are many people that want to store saffron in the fridge. We don’t recommend this option, storing saffron in a refrigerator should be avoided, especially if you are using saffron frequently. When moving saffron in and out of the fridge, you will create condensation. As a result of that, you can expect an increased level of moisture, which will eventually ruin the properties of saffron. This also will cause the saffron to become more “damp”, which makes it harder to grind in your pestle and mortar.
When it comes to temperature, experts recommend a well-balanced temperature between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius. As we have mentioned before, humidity plays important role in the lifespan of saffron. It is highly recommended to keep the humidity at around 40%.When storing saffron, try to use aluminum foil for additional protection.
Finally, it is better to use a few smaller containers because as we said before, every time you open the container a small amount of moisture enters the container. Frequent use will spoil the content. As you can see, storing saffron is not very difficult. All you need is a clean airtight container and the right spot to keep the container.
Features of the best saffron
Today, you can find references of saffron growing in parts of the Mediterranean, Spain, France, Italy, and Iran. But be informed that the quality will vary.
The major problem is the tendency for some sellers to mix a small quantity of saffron with cheaper spices and sell it off as the best quality in order to maximize profit.
Throughout the history, many dishonest dealers are trying to spoil their saffron through adding some similar materials or by dyeing some lower quality saffron strands red.
So how do buyers identify the best quality saffron spice because there is no point spending all that money to get less than premium quality spice? There are some common indications.
Color: Probably the quickest indication of a pure vs. adulterated saffron product is the color. All the threads should have the same vivid crimson red color. Be especially careful if you are buying it in powder form because some of the cheaper saffron producers choose to leave in the yellow stamens which are tasteless to add some weight. This dilutes the final color and reduces the expected taste of the saffron spice. This habit of mixing saffron is unfortunately common in street corner stores and some sellers mix it with other spices especially turmeric and marigold. If you are not buying the powder form but the threads instead, check that the tips of each stigma are all vivid red color. This is a good indication that you are buying saffron that is all natural and pure. Also better for you to select saffron threads instead of powder saffron because threads contain a better flavor and its healing qualities are also better and higher. As a general rule, it’s better to avoid buying powdered saffron entirely
Another indication Take a pinch of saffron (about 5-7 threads) and put in a cup of cold water. Pure saffron will slowly release a golden hue, whereas fake or adulterated saffron will release its yellow color immediately.
Let the saffron threads soak in cold water for about 10-15 min, do any of the threads turn clear or white? Pure saffron will retain its red color for up to 24 hours. Fake saffron will lose its color or turn clear within a few minutes, this is an indication that the saffron was dyed with chemicals. Some fraudulent sellers will create a mixture of pure and adulterated saffron to increase their profits
Taste and Aroma: Check the saffron you want to buy with your senses of taste and smell. If you put a thread of saffron in your mouth and it tastes noticeably sweet, then it’s fake. Interestingly, saffron is one spice that its taste and aroma can be difficult to explain. The best quality saffron has a strong and unmistakable smell comparable to honey but with a grassy undertone.
Packaging: It may not sound like much, but the packaging of the saffron can tell you a lot. It should come in a tiny, airtight, and lightproof container with a lab certified rating grade. If you see saffron being sold in large and inexpensive containers, know that you’re being offered a much cheaper mix or another spice entirely such as marigold. Such spices may give food the same color as saffron but will taste nothing like original saffron.
Texture: Take one saffron thread in your fingers and rub lightly, it should feel dry and brittle. If it’s slightly damp to the touch, it means there was moisture left in the pack to increase the weight.
When obtaining saffron, it is important to know what pure saffron is to choose the right one that will give your more benefits. Since it is one of the most falsified spices today, it is imperative to do some research about it and obtain it from a reliable source or trusted suppliers
Reasons for the high price of saffron
When it comes to spices, the price of saffron is the steepest in the world. People hearing about saffron for the first time may wonder why it is so expensive. In fact Saffron is unarguably the most expensive spice you can find on the planet.
It’s usually sold in a few grams or even ounces, just a few red threads of this delicate and exquisite tasting plant make up a few grams. That’s why it’s commonly referred to as “red gold.” When you consider certain factors explained below, it’s not hard to see why this spice costs so much.
Compared to other plants that can grow in several regions, the saffron plant is a very finicky and selective one exclusive to some regions.
The Crocus needs specific climatic conditions such as rain, temperature, and good soil with natural manures to grow easily.
The best quality saffron spice comes from a tiny part of the Crocus stativus flower also known as “saffron.” In addition what makes this spice so special and incredibly valuable is the fact that each saffron crocus only produces three small threads. Each one of these threads must be handpicked due to its delicate nature, for achieving the commercial quantity of dried saffron requires harvesting 80,000 flowers and above.
2-The extraction process
Saffron price isn’t reflective of the rarity of the spice or the difficulty of cultivation because that simply isn’t the case. Crocus sativus are a perennial bulb flower, meaning they multiply and come back year after year, removing the need for yearly sowing. The difficulty comes in the reaping of the stigmas.
The high price of saffron is attributed to a combination of how labor-intensive the harvest is and the acreage needed for growing the plant.
Till date, there is no mechanized way to safely harvest saffron stigmata from the flower. Because the threads themselves are so delicate, every single one of them must be removed gently and tenderly by hand. After removal from the flower, the stigmata are expertly dried quickly to retain their deep red color, unique flavor, and prevent moisture during packaging. The flowers are also small and grow very close to the ground making the entire process labor intensive.
Also the price of saffron is tied to the number of saffron harvested in a certain country and the number of middlemen who handle it before it reaches you.
Connoisseurs of fine living can testify to the unique benefits of saffron spice for cooking, its health benefits, and other uses.
The ancient Iranian and Greeks used it and so did the Chinese and the Romans for perfume, cloth dye, and in medicinal potions.
While saffron is the most expensive spice in the world but it does find its way into several lavish dishes, it can also be incorporated into meals inexpensively.
Saffron is a staple in traditional recipes around the world dishes like paella, bouillabaisse, tagine, risotto Milanese, and biryani. Beyond the use of saffron, there are a couple commonalities in all these dishes. All can be considered “comfort foods” and they are typically budget-friendly recipes prepared as traditional dishes for family and friends.
Yes, the saffron spice price makes it is one of the most expensive substances you can find, but try it in your cooking, and you would have to agree that its taste is well worth the price. Best of all, you need very little, just about 2 or 3 strands to add color and flavor to your entire dish.
Apart from enhancing the features of dishes magnificently, saffron also has many medical uses. It is used as a remedy to cure insomnia and reduce stress. Saffron is also a useful substance when it comes to weight loss, and fitness since it has an appetite receding effect. It is also of great use in the cosmetics and skin care facility as the various masks.
Saffron is such a remarkable spice, now you know it is not expensive and can justify buying it for all those comforting dishes you’ve been hoping to make.
usage of saffron in medical
We can also mention to many advantages of saffron, one of this advantages is helping to ill people, and it can cure some diseases, which are listed below.
Saffron can be used in the treatment of depression. Many studies have proven that saffron can be used for depression treatment.
The presence of volatile oil compounds such as safranal and alfa-crocin in saffron helps in controlling depression. These compounds also act as anticonvulsants.
However, you need to make sure you’re buying 100% real saffron until it be more effective against depression.
Most people that have asthma know how frustrating that can be. One main characteristic of asthma is difficulty in breathing. Difficulty in breathing is because their lungs have been inflamed, which leads to the restriction of airways. Using saffron can easily clear the restricted airways, thereby making easy for you breathe again.
Difficulty in sleeping:
If you find it difficult to sleep at night, then you need to start using saffron. This will help you in avoiding restless or sleepless nights. For best results, mix the saffron with some tea or milk and drink it before going to bed.
Saffron has been used as a pain reliever since the ancient times. Taking saffron with milk or tea can ease pains related to menstrual cycle.
Saffron is very effective in controlling the loss of blood during menstrual cycle
If you use to experience irregular menstrual cycle, you can use saffron to regulate your menstruation. Saffron not only induces menstruation, but also helps in relieving pains associated with periods. In addition, the spice can also help in the reduction of chronic uterus bleeding.
According to scientists, taking of saffron can increase the level of fatty acids in the membranes. These fatty acids support the cells that impart vision. The scientists revealed that drinking saffron tea can improve eyesight. This means is that individuals with poor eyesight can rely on saffron for improved sight.
The antioxidant properties of saffron have been known to inhibit the activities of markers that contribute to cardiovascular diseases. One antioxidant called lycopene in saffron is known to support a healthy heart. Aside that, crocetin, another active ingredient in saffron helps in lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood, thereby preventing the development of disease.
The antioxidants properties of saffron help in curbing inflammations, as well as reduces it in patients that has arthritis. Also, saffron can solve these problems, because it helps in stopping the inflammatory markers that spread the infection.
Treatment of hair loss:
The application of a mixture of saffron, licorice and milk over the scalp is very effective in treatment of baldness (alopecia) and prevention of hair loss. It also stimulated hair growth.
Heart rate control:
Saffron contains potassium, which helps in controlling the rate of heartbeat. This helps in protecting the heart.
Blood pressure control:
Saffron has a lot of mineral contents such as potassium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and selenium. Most of these minerals helps in controlling the blood pressure and in the formation of hemoglobin as well.
Saffron contains a lot of antioxidants, which are quite beneficial in fighting off free radicals and as a result prevents diseases and promotes good health.
Saffron contains bio-chemical compounds such as lycopene, zeaxanthin, α- and β- carotene. These bio-chemical compounds helps protecting the body from cancer due to their ability to act as immune modulators.
Saffron is one of the few plant products that contains the highest amount of vitamin B2. Regular intake of saffron can help prevent swelling of tongues, skin cracking, throat soreness, skin irritation and cracking of the lips.
Saffron has carotenoids, which helps in boosting the immunity level of the body, as well as reduces oxidant-induce stress.
Saffron has a lot of therapeutic uses and it’s very effective in detoxification of the body. In addition, it can be used in spasms, cramps and body healing.
Saffron stimulates digestion as a result of its contents of many medicinal compounds and an anticonvulsant. Saffron can also come in handy when there’s an enlargement of the spleen and liver.
Improve cellular function:
Saffron contains a lot of nutrients that helps with tissues and cells growth, particularly potassium and magnesium.
Making a paste of saffron and honey and massaging onto the tooth can help in relieving pains from the gums.
Formation of hemoglobin:
The presence of iron in saffron is very good in the formation of hemoglobin in the blood.
The presence of safranal, a sedative compound in saffron is very effective as an analgesic. It also influences the nervous system.
Saffron is one of the prescriptions for arthritis patients from physicians.
Saffron has been known to be effective in the improvement of men’s vitality. Even elderly people draw strength from this amazing spice.
Saffron contains a good amount of vitamin C and as a result is able to boost the body’s immunity. This prevents various ailments from attacking to body.
Improve muscular problems:
Saffron is very effective against age related muscular degeneration and it also helps in healing the damaged cell as well.
For neurological problems:
Since discover of the many health benefits of saffron, it has been used on the forehead as a result of its neurological benefits.
You can use this saffron cold remedy to fight off the symptoms of cold completely. While it’s quite efficient against colds, it’s also delicious