What is saffron?
Saffron, often referred to as "red gold," is a unique and highly sought-after spice derived from the dried stigmas of the crocus flower. It has a strong, pungent aroma and a bitter taste, and is often used as a seasoning for a variety of dishes. It takes an extraordinary 150 000 flowers, 450 000 stigmas to produce one kilogram of saffron, making it one of the world’s most expensive spices by weight. Many factors contribute to the high price of saffron, such as the labour intensive process of separating the delicate stigmas from the flower, and the fact that the flowers must be hand-picked at the optimum time of day. Additionally, saffron’s high demand and rarity further contribute to its cost.
Saffron spice gives a quaint bittersweet aroma, like honey and hay. It tastes as bittersweet as it smells. One has to taste it to know what it really tastes like. Some say “it is mushroomy and smoky”, others say “it tastes like the sea” and some say “it is metallic with honey tones and a whiff of seashells”.
Grading of Stigmas
Mainly Saffron threads are graded in 4 types
Grade 1 or A+
Negin or super Negin
Although Sargol (means top part of a flower) is considered as the premium saffron, there is another variation of Sargol Saffron. If three stigma threads are attached together this type of saffron is called Negin. Since production of Negin saffron is an extremely delicate and precise manual skill, it is the most expensive type of saffron and very limited to offer.
ISO reading of Negin is usually more than 270.
Grade 2 or A
Grade 3 or B
This grade consists of ONLY dark red stigma tips and has the highest quality compared to the other types. Sargol Saffron is the pure saffron with no broken strand.
ISO reading of Sargol 260-270.
Pushal saffron is the stigma's orange part of the plant attached to a 1-3 mm style end.
ISO reading of Pushal up to 250
Grade 4 or C
Dokhtar or Bunch
This grade is relatively low strength grade, and consists of red stigmas plus large amount of yellow style, presented in a tiny bundle.
ISO reading of Dokhtar is 70 to 75
Saffron Crocus sativus life cycle