Plant Crocus sativus L.

Saffron and history

The word saffron comes from the Arabic word zafaran. Scientists have proven through historical records that saffron originated in the Zargos Mountains in Iran (more than 4,000 years ago) and has since spread its popularity around the world. For a long time Iranian saffron has enjoyed interest from around the world and its consumption and demand steadily rising. One reason is that Iranian saffron has an intense natural scent, purple red color and is also rich in nutrients.

With 75 000 hectares of saffron fields, Iran covers over 90% of the world's saffron production, which is approximately 300 tonnes per year. Iran can be considered the cradle of world saffron. Even many types of saffron, which are distributed with the designation of other countries, come from Iran. Saffron is sometimes nicknamed the red gold of the desert because its origin is the Iranian desert. Most Iranian saffron is destined for export. In the Torbat-e-Heydarieh area, 100 to 130 tonnes of saffron are produced, with most of the growing fields in the vicinity of Torbat-e Heydarieh, Zaveh, Roshthar and Mahvlat. Torbat-e Heydarieh is located in the southern part of Khorasan Razavi province and occupies the world's first place in saffron production. Saffron fields can be found in all areas of Iran, and particularly in Central and Eastern Iran, they have a specific climate and thus provide the best conditions for their cultivation.

Interestingly, despite the fact that most of world saffron production comes from Iran, the origin of saffron from Iran often melts in the market. Although Iran exports saffron to different countries, some of them sell the purchased saffron under their own brand.

Quality classes of Iranian saffron are: "negin" (long red junks, the highest quality), "sargol" (red junks, the same quality as negin), "pushal" or "bite or bitten" , "banda" (a saffron style that is presented in a small package as a miniature wheat coffee) and "konge" (only the yellow style declared to have a smell, but has only a small or scarce color potential).

Countries producing less saffron compared to Iran do not have a specialized designation for the different categories of saffron quality, and therefore mark their production with only one qualitative class. In addition to the descriptions based on how the saffron is collected, saffron can be classified according to the ISO 3632 international standard after laboratory measurement of the crocodile (saffron color), picrocrocine (flavor) and safranal (fragrance or aroma).

According to ISO 3632, the content of nestygmatic content ("floral waste content") and other extraneous substances such as inorganic material ("dust") is key. These classification standards are defined by ISO (International Organization for Standardization, Federation of National Standardization Bodies). ISO 3632 deals exclusively with saffron and introduces three categories: III (worst quality), II and I (best quality). Previously, there was also Category IV. Samples are assigned to individual categories based on the measurement of turpentine and picrocrocin content in spices, which are measured by specific spectrophotometric absorbance. The safranal content is measured slightly differently and rather than the threshold values ​​for each category, the samples must have a value of 20-50 for all categories.

The area around the village of Gonabad, in Miyan Velayat District District, Mashhad's capital city of Razavi Khorasan, northeast of Iran, is one of the most important areas of saffron production.

Iranian saffron versus Indian (Kashmiri) saffron

The main difference between Indian and Iranian saffron is the yield of the figure, which is about 75%. Sausages grown in Kashmir are extremely long and dense. They are also dark red in color. The stigma size affects the soil's own suitability and climate for growing this plant. Some vendors also resort to mixing different types of saffron. Usually, this is done by importers in non-productive countries due to large price differences: Iranian saffron is about a half higher than Indian (Kashmir) saffron. Commercial name of Indian saffron: "Mongra", "Lacha"

Iranian saffron versus Spanish saffron

High-quality saffron made in Iran is exported in large quantities to Spain. Here the saffron blends with Spanish and sells, wrapped in beautiful gift boxes like "La Mancha" or "Mancha", which is then distributed at much higher prices to all parts of the world. 

The scale of the Spanish saffron is: "cupe" (the highest grade, like the Iranian sargol), "mancha" (as an Iranian pushal), followed by descending classes "rio", "standard" and "sierra" saffron. The word "mancha" in the Spanish classification can have two meanings: the general degree of saffron or the high quality Spanish saffron of the protected geographical indication. The Spanish saffron class has the status of a protected designation of origin and its symbol is displayed on the product packaging. Spanish growers fought hard for the status of protected designation of origin because they felt that imports of Iranian saffron, repackaged in Spain by traders and sold as "Spanish saffron", undermined the real quality of La Mancha and degraded them de facto.

Spain officially produces about 1 tons of saffron a year. By exporting 100 tonnes of saffron a year, 20-30 tonnes of which are only to the USA. How is it possible?

Greek saffron

The most famous Greek saffron is marketed under the Krokos Kozani Saffroni brand name ("Red Saffron") and comes from the small town of Krokos, 5 km south of the city of Kozani in the Macedonian region of Greece. No other area of ​​Greece can produce true Greek saffron. It is a high-quality saffron that achieves a coloring strength of 230 USP according to ISO 3632. The town of Krokos is home to the Kozani Safflower Cooperative, which has 2000 members divided into 40 small villages. Annual production, depending on the weather conditions, varies from 6 to 12 tons of pure saffron every year. Most of this production is certified as organic, in addition to the protected designation of origin (PDO). 

Moroccan saffron

Morocco is the second producer of saffron in the world after Iran, and yet the awareness of saffron Morocco is minimal. Everyone knows Spanish saffron, although in Spain, saffron is cultivated only to a minimum of areas, but Spain is a prominent distributor of the studied saffron. Moroccan brand Safran Souktana is a registered trademark and produces most of the total amount of saffron in Taliouine Taroudant Morocco.