Saffron is an exotic spice which we, at Salonik, are proud to import for our customers throughout the world at the highest quality. This spice has many names in India like Kesar, Kesara, Kong, Kungumapoo, Kunkumapuva, Kunkuma Kesari and Zaffran. Out of these names, it is most commonly known as Zaffran and Kesar.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus which comes from the Iridaceae family, native from Greece to Southwest Asia. It is believed that saffron originated in Iran. In today’s world, Iran is said to produce about 90% of the world total for saffron.
Saffron crocus gradually propagated throughout much of Eurasia and was later brought to parts of North Africa, North America, and Oceania.
Rich Fragrance and Colour
Each flower has three crimson stigmas, which are used as a coloring agent and a spice. The vivid crimson stigma and styles, called threads, are gathered and dried for use primarily as a seasoning and colouring agent in food.
Saffron’s taste and hay-like fragrance result from the phytochemicals; safranal and picrocrocin. It also contains a carotenoid pigment, crocin, which imparts a rich golden-yellow colour to textiles and dishes.
Production And Harvest
The saffron crocus, unknown in the wild, presumably descends from Crocus cartwrightianus. Saffron, as we know it today, cannot be produced without human intervention. It is a triploid that is “self-incompatible” and male sterile; it undergoes aberrant meiosis and is hence unequipped for independent sexual reproduction. The plant reproduces asexually via vegetative propagation.
The Crocus sativus plant likes dry, warm climate, but tolerates frosts as low as −10 °C (14 °F) and short periods of snow cover. Its preferred type of soil has clay with a good mix of calcium carbonate and other organic matter.
Corms are planted in summer and the saffron crocus flowers are ready to be harvested mid- to late-autumn. The flowers must be reaped by hand, before or immediately after dawn so that they are not damaged by direct heat from the sun.
The flowers are exceptionally delicate, and numerous producers believe mechanical plucking damages the saffron crocus flowers. Cultivation is done through corms, which are its bulb-like stems that develop under the soil.
Why Is Saffron So Expensive?
Each flower of the spice produces only 3 stigmas. Once the flowers have been harvested, its stigmas must be plucked and dried for around 12 hours. It takes between 15,000-16,000 flowers to produce 1 kg of saffron spice. In terms of labour, producing this amount takes 370–470 hours! It is this labour-intensive harvesting process that results in the exorbitantly high price of Saffron which is maintained in our market.