The Origin of Saffron
Saffron crocus needs a special condition to grow. A cool dry climate is the best environment for high-quality saffron to grow. Though it is still debatable whether the origin of saffron is Iran or Greece, Iranian saffron is now the most well-known saffron available in the market. Iran’s share of the global market is now over 80 percent and Iranian Saffron has the highest quality. The fragile saffron flower is now also being cultivated in India, Spain, Afghanistan, Morocco, and Greece besides Iran. There are also a few saffron farms in the US as well, but the country was never been a major production hub of saffron.
However, the quality of saffron produced in Iran is much higher than the ones cultivated in other places. This is due to the high standards that Iran imposes in cultivating the Saffron flowers. So, to buy pure saffron, consider saffron cultivated in Iran as one of the best options.
Benefits of Saffron
While the saffron price is high, you may wonder why a person should buy saffron at all. The answer is not so hard; the impressive health benefits besides the quality that saffron adds to your foods as a spice would compensate for the expensive price of saffron. Here, you can read a few effects of saffron that can persuade you to buy saffron:
- The first proven benefit of saffron is its anti-depression effect. Several researches have attested that using a certain amount of saffron daily can highly affect a person’s mood.
- The active antioxidants of saffron are useful for the skin and increase the serotonin level in the brain which accordingly keeps you in good mood.
- Recent studies show the positive effect of saffron on infertility treatment.
- The potassium which is an active component in saffron also affects blood pressure.
- Drinking saffron with milk or any other hot beverage improves your sleep quality.
- Saffron has a positive effect on PMS symptoms and reduces pain during the menstrual cycle.
- High-quality saffron has a positive effect on digestive health which consequently has a direct impact on overall health.
Saffron flower’s petals were traditionally used in medicine as well. Though many proven and traditional benefits are mentioned for saffron, like any other food, excessive use may cause side effects.
Distinguishing Pure Saffron
The high-quality saffron is professionally picked and processed by hand to minimize the damages. The first obvious sign of pure Iranian saffron is its deep red color. The best quality type of saffron has a deeper color. Also, unlike many people’s expectations, the quality saffron has a slightly bitter taste.
Besides the shape and color, you need to check more in-depth factors when you want to buy saffron. The size of saffron threads, length of the red parts, and lack of yellow or white styles affect the quality of saffron.
By the way, as there are dyed Pushals in the market sold as high-quality saffron, saffron appearance is not the only thing that you should pay attention to. You can also use saffron once to see its coloring power but it needs samples to test.
Moreover, though you can buy saffron in filaments and ground it yourself, there is saffron in powder or ground form as well. When you are going to buy saffron powder, be more cautious as it can be mixed with other flowers’ powder.
We highly recommend to buy saffron from trusted sources as it may not be easy for all people to distinguish quality saffron. However, if you are a distributor or retailer who is highly dependent on your customers’ trust, we suggest asking for lab tests to be sure that you are providing saffron from trusted suppliers.
As mentioned before, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world; partly due to its high labor cost and partly due to the flower’s harvesting time which is limited and makes the supplements limited too.
Each saffron crocus only has three threads and to preserve the quality, all process from picking the flowers and separating the threads to drying the stigma and packaging it should be performed by hand.
Also, besides the limited harvest time which starts in October and lasts for almost a month, the saffron flower should be handpicked in mid-morning when the flowers are not still fully open so the stigma would not get hurt. Moreover, the Crocus sativus can be found in a few places which makes the spice even more precious.
However, using saffron as a spice is not as expensive as you may think. The strong aroma and color of saffron make a few saffron threads more than enough for each meal.