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IRAN - Premium quality saffron

Premium quality saffron

Khorasan, Northern Iran, February 2017

A popular legend in Iran warns us that :

“You can’t cheat with saffron, it’s an intelligent flower!”

Discover a few of saffron’s secrets:


What does saffron look like ?

This spice comes in the form of deep red, slightly rusty orange coloured very fine little strands called threads with a diffuse end.

The aromas:

This enchanting spice releases aromatic floral base notes with delicate scents of spent flowers, dried candied fruit and honey, rounded with hints of resin. Once they’ve been left out in the air for a few minutes, the candied aromas become even stronger and the scent releases subtle notes of muscat, like currants.

The flavours:

Saffron has a very characteristic taste, smooth yet with a gentle sweet heat, enhanced by a slightly astringent lingering taste.


The quality of saffron can de determined based on 3 criteria: how much safranal, crocin and picrocrocin the saffron contains.
  • Crocin is what gives saffron its colouring.
  • Safranal gives it its aromas. This molecule has long been known for its antidepressive properties. That’s why it’s commonly known as the “spice of joy”.
  • Picrocrocin gives saffron its characteristic bitterness.
Good quality saffron will not possess more than 12% humidity (ISO TS 3632-2).

Category 1 Saffron includes 3 products

The quality of saffron is highly regulated. Category 1 (the best quality saffron) includes :
  • NEGIN: the world’s best saffron. This comes from the upper part of the pistil. This is the noble part of the pistil and contains the highest concentration of crocin, picrocrocin and safranal, more than any other type of saffron. The strands are finer and redder than other types of saffron as it’s the upper part of the strand that is cut and dried just after plucking.
  • SARGOL: after plucking, the strands are dried, then the lower yellow part is cut off and discarded. This saffron releases sweet notes and aromas of cedar, pepper and flowers. It releases strong heat, and gentle power.
  • WHOLE SAFFRON: also known as La Mancha Spanish saffron, is made from the whole strand with both the red and yellow parts. This requires less work as the yellow part of the stigma has been left on. Its taste, colour and aromas as not as strong.


We set off to meet our saffron producer. This video shows the harvest of Iranian red gold, which is done entirely by hand.
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