Saffron and Iran are uniquely linked together. Iran harvests about 90% of the world’s crocus sativus, from which the spice saffron is made. Despite its small quantities, this spice is quite expensive, and is suitable for many applications.
Iranian saffron is a natural spice, sometimes referred to as “red gold”. It is globally known for its incomparable quality, fascinating fragrance, pleasant flavor, and superb coloring strength.
The dye (color) intensity of commercial saffron when immersed in liquid utilizing test method standards set up by the ISO (International Standards Organization). It is expressed as degrees of color, for example 190 degrees of coloring strength. This is the standard by which all commercial saffron is placed in quality categories (starting with the highest: Category I, II, III and IV). The reason color is an important standard is that the coloring strength of true saffron has a direct correlation to its aroma and flavor. The higher the degree of color in saffron the stronger its aroma and flavor.
The most common variety of fall blooming crocuses which saffron are obtained from. The bulb reproduces itself and most commonly is left in the ground of saffron cultivating countries for four years at a stretch before it is lifted out and replanted in new earth. These bulbs are widely available through nurseries in the East part of Iran.
The date you see on saffron packaging which indicates the date of the harvest from which that saffron originated. The date is usually expressed as two years, for example, 1997/98, indicating that the saffron was harvested in 1997 and then exported in 1998. Since saffron stigmas are harvested late in the year and must be cured (dried) and packaged properly to preserve their chemical properties, it is impossible for them to be collected and shipped in the same year.
The process by which the aroma, flavor and yellow dye are successfully removed from saffron threads in order to add those properties in cooking and baking. Saffron threads need to be immersed in hot, acidic or alcoholic liquids for a period of time in order to release enough of their chemical properties.
Safflower (also known as American saffron) or any substitute for saffron. True saffron is sometimes mixed with filler substances such as dyed grass blades or straw to add weight and therefore commercial value.
Defined by the ISO, it refers to the “yellow filaments that are unattached and separated, pollens, stamens, parts of ovaries and other parts of the flower of Crocus sativus Linnaeus”. The floral waste consists of the parts of the saffron flower which contain none of saffron’s aromatic, flavoring or coloring properties and should not be present in commercial saffron in anything but minute quantities. In a photospectrometry report, floral waste is measured, along with coloring strength and other indicators in order to classify commercial saffron by a quality category.
Short name for the International Organization for Standardization, based in Switzerland, they are a body of professionals who set worldwide commercial quality and labeling standards for various foodstuffs, including spices and condiments.
A new variety of saffron that is longer and thicker than common saffron.
Negin Sargol Saffron (all-red saffron)
A kind of saffron which is pure and contains stigma without style like the common sargol. The negin sargol is a new variety, longer and thicker than the common sargol. Coloring power is very high (above 250 USP), and the stigmas unbroken.
Suitable soil for saffron is loam plus manure. Saffron bulbs can be cultivated from mid-May to mid-September. Saffron continues to flower for 7 to 10 years. After planting, irrigation starts and it is between mid-September and the end of October.
Harvest of saffron is done in mid-autumn. It is better to do harvest in the early morning. In this case probability of mechanical damage and contamination are reduced because the flowers are shut and the temperature is lower. The stigmas with 2 to 4 mm of its style is separated from the flower.
Negin Pushal Saffron
A kind of saffron is pure and contains stigma without style like common pushal. The negin pushal is a new variety, longer and thicker than the common pushal. Coloring power is high (about 245 USP), and the stigmas unbroken.
Maximum Coloring Strength
A scientific measurement defined by the ISO Standard 3632 governing saffron.
Minimum Coloring Strength
Expressed as 190 degrees of color in saffron (threads or powder) in a laboratory analysis as part of the ISO definition of Category I saffron.
A laboratory measurement which analyzes the chemical make-up of a substance. This laboratory analysis is used to determine the quantity of crocin (yellow dye), picrocrocin (flavor expressed as bitterness) and safranal (aroma) present in commercial saffron. Depending on the results of this analysis, commercial saffron is then branded as Category I (the best), Category II and so forth, as defined by the ISO.
The slotting of commercial saffron into one of four categories (excellent to poor) as last revised in 1993 by the International Organization for Standardization in Switzerland. There are four ISO saffron categories, each defined by the coloring strength and other indicators, as measured in a laboratory.
Another term for saffron threads (as opposed to saffron powder).
An annual event which takes place over three to four weeks in October and November in the Northern Hemisphere (Iran, France, Greece, Kashmir, Morocco, Spain, Wales) and in April in the Southern Hemisphere (New Zealand). During this time, the crocus sativus plants bloom continuously, necessitating long work days for farmers and their families.
The male part of the saffron plant with no culinary value and not part of true saffron. They are bright yellow and in Greece are sometimes harvested, powdered and sold as a coloring agent for paint.
The female reproductive organ of the saffron plant which, when properly dried (cured), becomes commercial saffron. They are bright red and look like thin red threads when dried.
Referring to pure saffron as opposed to saffron mixed with non-saffron substances to add bulk and weight.