Saffron is one of the most valuable and expensive spices known worldwide, thanks to its color, flavor and medicinal properties.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as "saffron crocus". Saffron, long among the world's costliest spices by weight, was probably first cultivated in or near Greece.
Saffron aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. Saffron also contributes a luminous yellow-orange coloring to foods.
Saffron is widely used in Persian, Indian, European, and Arab cuisines. Confectioneries and liquors also often include saffron. Saffron is used in dishes ranging from the jeweled rice of Iran, the Milanese risotto of Italy, the paella of Spain, the fish soup bouillabaisse of France, to biryani with various meat accompaniments in South Asia and Middle East.
Types of Saffron
Saffron from different producer countries, picked and dried in different ways gives rise to different end qualities.
There are various types of saffron at the global markets and each type may have a specific quality. So it is important to know more about it so that we can determine high quality saffron and also truly compare different products with different prices.
There may be several types of saffron in the world but the most common types are the following:
1. Category I
This kind of saffron contains stigmas only. Remarkable features of this category is longer and thicker wholesome threads.
Coloring power of this category is 220 – 240 USP and above, that corresponds to Category I by ISO standard - top quality saffron in the world. In Iranian grading scale this type of Saffron corresponds to "Negin sargol".
If this type of saffron contains a very little of style (yellow part), it is considered a common grade of this category and is called "Negin poushal" in Iranian scale. This type is also of high quality and falls into Category I grade, but priced lower.
"Sargol Saffron" – another Iranian grade variety within Category I usually consists of only red parts of stigma ( no style & pollen) with high power of coloring (220 - 240 USP), intense aroma and flavor.
2. Category II
This kind includes red stigmas with 2 - 5 mm yellow style thread. The color strength is about 180 - 200 USP. According to ISO standard it is usually classified into ISO Category II and corresponds to “Poushal” in Iranian grading. "Poushal" means massive for its volume resulted from time and method of harvesting.
3. Category III
This kind usually contains whole natural threads of saffron (red and yellow parts) which is bunched and tied with a string. The coloring strength is usually about 140-160 USP and it is classified into ISO Category III, or “Dasteh” in Iranian grading.
4. Category IV
This kind include only the yellow parts of saffron threads with a length of 5 to 15 mm (style). This category Saffron contains a good aroma but low coloring strength, so in addition to cooking, it is used in medical industries. Corresponds to “Risheh” or “Sefideh” Saffron in Iranian grading.
Saffron Health Benefits
- Boosts Cardiovascular Health
- Treats Erectile Dysfunction
- Possesses Potential Anticancer Effects
- Alleviates Symptoms of PMS
- Promotes Satiety and Weight loss
- Treats Anxiety and Depression
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