Saffron is basically considered as a spice which is derived from a flower whose scientific name is Crocus Sativus. It is a delicate purple coloured flower whose stigmas are dried to extract the spice. It is cultivated once in a year. saffron has been used for thousands of years as a seasoning, fragrance, dye, and medicine. The stigmas of the flower are harvested and processed by hand which is very labor intensive and the reason why Saffron is considered the world’s most expensive spice.
High-quality saffron comes from the regions of the world where saffron grows naturally. This is why Persian Saffron is always high on the list. There are different types of saffron. The highest quality saffron is all red saffron and a subtype called negin grade saffron. The latter is considered to be premium quality saffron where the threads form a red cluster. A lot of work and skills are needed to produce negin saffron.
Every serious saffron manufacturer states the type and grade of saffron. If you see that the saffron threads have yellow-white ends, it means that the manufacturer is trying to add some weight. These parts of the stigma are still aromatic but they don’t add any color.
The Right Climate for Cultivation
The best saffron is cultivated in countries with a suitable climate for the saffron flower to grow. The latter likes cold, wet winters, hot summers, and sandy soil. Saffron grows well in such counties as Iran, India, Afghanistan, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Morocco, etc.
Perfectly Dried Saffron
High-quality saffron is perfectly dried saffron. After harvesting, saffron threads should be dried to the perfect degree. They shouldn’t be moist but shouldn’t be roasted either. Once dried, saffron should be properly packaged and stored. Hardly will you find high-quality saffron sold in an ordinary plastic spice jar.
How to Test the Quality of Saffron?
Not all saffron brands sell high-quality saffron. As there are brands on the market that sell fake saffron, it is best to buy it from trusted manufacturers. If you have already bought saffron, here is how to tell if it is real high-quality saffron or not.
- Smell it. Fake saffron doesn’t have a distinct smell. Real saffron, on the other hand, has a unique aroma with sweet notes. It also smells somewhat musky and floral.
- Taste it. Although saffron is a very aromatic spice, it doesn’t have a distinct taste. It is slightly sweet, floral, and bitter all at the same time. If your saffron tastes overly sweet or metallic, it is either fake or very low-quality.