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process of harvesting saffron threads from crocus flower

How to Choose the Best Saffron: Ultimate Guide

Embark on a journey to find the world’s best saffron, as we follow the vibrant threads of the delicate crocus flower to the sumptuous dishes it enriches. This treasured spice, steeped in history, is not just a culinary adornment but a story of passion, labor, and artistry.

The Saffron Journey

Farmers who cultivate the crocus sativus flower are a testament to the dedication required for the cultivation of saffron. The miraculous flower blooms just once a year. Experienced workers hand picked its precious stigmas with painstaking care. This meticulous process captures the essence of saffron in its purest form. It is said that it takes approximately 150,000 flowers to yield a single kilogram of saffron threads.

 

Field of purple crocus sativus flowers in full bloom producing the world's best saffron

Envision the fields of purple crocus in full bloom, with laborers meticulously handpicking each flower during the brief annual harvest. This intensive process, requiring hundreds of hours of labor for a single kilogram, underscores the exclusivity and luxury of saffron. It is also the reason why saffron is the most expensive spice.

Types of Saffron

While several countries cultivate saffron, each with its unique characteristics, connoisseurs often debate which saffron is best. Each variety carries the heritage and terroir of its land, offering a unique palette of flavors to discerning palettes.

From the misty valleys of Kashmir to the sun-drenched fields of Spain, saffron varies remarkably. Kashmiri saffron is prized for its deep color and intense aroma, while the Spanish variety is known for its vibrant color and distinct flavor. Iranian saffron brings a robust flavor, and the Greek threads offer a balance of earthy and floral hints.

Spanish saffron, known as “Azafrán de La Mancha,” has a protected designation of origin status and is celebrated for its subtle, sweet notes. While many regard Iranian saffron as the most accessible due to its comparatively abundant production, it’s the scarce Kashmiri saffron that’s frequently lauded as the rarest. With its intense aroma, strong flavor, and deep crimson color, it is highly sought after by connoisseurs worldwide.

Grading Saffron

Experts measure saffron’s quality by evaluating its color strength, flavor profile, and aroma. The ISO grading system ranks it from I, the highest, to IV, indicating lower quality. Basically, high-grade saffron boasts a deep red hue, a heady fragrance, and a flavor that lingers on the palate.

The stigma of the crocus flower intrinsically defines the grade of saffron. The stigma, which comprises the red and yellow portions, is the key to saffron’s value. The highest grade of saffron, ‘Sargol’ in Iran or ‘Coupe’ in Spain, includes only the red stigma tips and lacks the yellow style. As the color of pure saffron comes primarily from the red parts, these grades are rich in flavor and dye. 

Although the yellow style doesn’t harm the flavor, it signifies a lower grade by diluting saffron’s potency. Ultimately, the ISO 3632 standard sets specific metrics for this grading, evaluating factors like color (rated in safranal units), flavor (picrocrocin), and aroma (crocin content). This ensures that only the most vivid, flavorful, and aromatic threads are classified as top-tier.

Quality Indicators

A saffron connoisseur assesses quality through a multi-sensory approach. They look for a vivid crimson color, which suggests a high concentration of active components. Obviously, the highest quality saffron has uniformly red stigmas, without any yellow or orange. The threads should be dry and brittle to the touch, snapping easily when you bend them. The aroma should be rich and earthy, with no hint of mustiness. 

Taste is also telling; high-quality saffron will not taste overly bitter or metallic. Additionally, when you place them in water, premium saffron threads should leisurely release their color creating a golden hue, without disintegrating. Finally, the water itself should taste subtly of saffron without an overpowering bitterness.

Which saffron is the best in the world?

Red24 Saffron by Amertaat was created to provide the experience of the world’s best saffron from the comfort of your home.

Saffron is historically known as “Red Gold” for its precious characteristics. Consequently, Red24 is inspired by the purity of 24-Karat Gold and the rarity of Saffron in nature, which are the underlying features of our entire product range. 

Our Promise:

At Amertaat, each product is a pledge of quality, sustainability, and the purest connection to the Earth’s own vitality. In every strand of Red24 Saffron lies the potential for renewed health and longevity. We bring to you the best saffron in the world, harvested with integrity and care for a healthier, more vibrant life.