Tastes and scents are some of the greatest memories you bring with you in your lifetime. Iranian saffron with its unique taste, color, and the scent reminds you of the country. Traveling to Iran, you would understand that many Persian cuisines, desserts, and even beverages owe their mesmerizing taste to the Persian saffron.
Here in this article, we talk about all things you wish to know about Iranian saffron characteristics, variety, price, and benefits. So read on to know more about this magic spice.
What is saffron?
Saffron or “red gold” comes from the crocus sativus flower. The flower’s red stigmas, which are like the thread. During the harvesting season, the saffron field is covered by a really nice purple color.
Each flower, about 30 cm high, has only three stigmas of saffron and blooms for one week each year. The flower is resistant to cold weather even to negative 40 degrees celsius. So the colder the region for harvesting, you can have a higher quality of saffron.
The product you buy at the market is in fact the dried threads of saffron, which are separated from the flower by hands. You can also find it in powder. It is slightly sweet and has a great fragrance and color.
Iranian saffron grades
Different parts of saffron threads provide different quality of saffron. The Iranian saffron has five grades of quality, which you can read about below:
It is the most expensive type of Persian saffron and is very limited. But what is Negin? As we said, each saffron flower has three threads. If these threads attached together, it is called Negin saffron. It is really a delicate job so it is very rare. That is the reason it is very expensive as well.
It is the most commonly known of all grades. In comparison to other types of saffron, Sargol has the highest quality. It is actually the red tips of saffron threads without any breaking part. So it has a very rich color and great scent.
It is not as pure as Sargol since it is the thread of saffron about 1 to 3 mm lower than Sargol. The coloring of Pushal depends on the quality of saffron.
The whole thread of saffron is called a bunch. The whole string is dried and is a lower grade of saffron in comparison to Pushal.
The root part of saffron is called Konj or white saffron in Europe. In fact, it is the remaining part of saffron after separating the bunch.
Common saffron Varieties in iran
The eastern part of Iran, with a dry and cold climate, is the hub of saffron harvesting in Iran. Several cities in Khorasan provinces are known for their products of Iranian saffron. Qaen, Gonabad, Torbate Heydarieh, Taybad, Birjand and Khaf are some of these cities.
However, the saffron of Qaen is the most popular saffron among Iranian for its high quality.
Persian saffron vs. Spain saffron
According to Britannica, nowadays saffron is cultivated chiefly in Iran but is also grown in Spain, and other countries France, Italy, and parts of India.
But what is the difference between Iranian and Spanish saffron?
First of all, as we said earlier, the best climate for saffron cultivation is subtropical. this kind of climate is found in the eastern part of Iran. So the product has more quality in comparison to similar ones.
Secondly, you can witness the lively color of Persian saffron and it has more flavor and scent.
Spanish called saffron as Azafran. The spice is mellow in comparison to Iranian type.
With renting car, you have the chance to visit different regions of the beautiful country during three-week trip. During the road trip, you have the chance to visit saffron farm and pistachio gardens in central Iran.
Iranian saffron price
This high demand spice is one of the most expensive ones around the world. The reason for the high price of saffron is the hard process of its harvesting.
The only way to harvest this precious commodity is by hand. After collecting saffron, the stigmas should be handpicked.
The time of harvesting is also important. It should be done before sunrise when the flowers are not opened.
The flowers should be picked very fast. About 500 stigmas are needed for one gram of saffron. So over 165 saffron flowers produce only one gram. These are the reasons that saffron is very precious.
As 500 stigmas for a gram of saffron, it takes about 167 saffron flowers to produce only one gram. That is why saffron is so precious.
Gram and ounce are used to measure saffron around the world. In Iran, mesghal, which equals 4.6 grams, is also used to measure saffron. So while buying saffron, take note that what measurement is used on its pocket.
Iranian saffron benefits
From ancient times, Iranian saffron has medical purposes. It was used in herbal medicine and drinks to reduce stress and depression. It has long been used for respiratory disorders, scarlet fever, smallpox, and asthma.
Saffron can also affect Insomnia, heart disease, stomach disorders, women’s menstrual pain, and amenorrhea.
However, besides all these medical benefits, Iranians make many cuisines with saffron and use it as an additive to add color, taste, and aroma to their foods.
Shole Zard, a kind of Persian pudding made of rice, saffron, and rose water, is one of the well-known desserts in Iran. Tahchin, a kind of rice flavored with saffron and chicken, is another one.
Saffron is also used to make some stews like Qeymeh tastier. It is used to embellish rice and some desserts.
You can also find saffron in Bastnai Sonnati, Iranian traditional ice cream. Tea with saffron and the mixture of rose water and saffron are other beverages that you should not miss while visiting Iran.
Iranian saffron adds color, taste, and aroma to your visiting to Iran. So do not miss this colorful tasty experience while visiting the country.