What is Persian saffron?
Persian Saffron is taken from the flower of “saffron crocus”. The vivid red¬†stigmas¬†and¬†styles, called threads, are collected and dried to be used in food mostly as a¬†seasoning¬†and colouring agent. It has a sweet flavor. It is the most expensive spice in the world, because it should just be picked by hand, not machines. 250,000 stigmas make only half a kilo of Saffron, that‚Äôs why it is so expensive and precious. ¬†Iran¬†now accounts for 90% -93% of the world Saffron production.
Is Persian Saffron good for your health?
But besides being expensive, it is a major source of antioxidants. It can help combat depression and lower blood pressure, and also soften your skin and hair.
Dried saffron has 65%¬†carbohydrates, 6%¬†fat, 11%¬†protein¬†and 12% water.
In comparison to other spices or dried foods, the nutrient content of dried saffron shows richness of nutritional value across¬†B vitamins and¬†dietary minerals. In one¬†tablespoon¬†(2 grams),¬†manganese¬†is present as 28% of the¬†Daily Value, but other nutrients are negligible.
Persian Saffron Uses
Persian Saffron is widely used in Persian, Indian, European, and Arab cuisines. Confectioneries and liquors also include saffron most of the time. It is used in dishes ranging from the¬†jewelled rice¬†and¬†khoresh¬†of Iran,¬†the¬†bouillabaisse¬†of France ,the Milanese¬†risotto¬†of Italy, the¬†paella¬†of Spain, to the¬†biryani in South Asia. It is also used in Swedish buns. One of the most esteemed use of saffron is in Golden Ham preparation. Golden Ham is a precious dry-cured¬†ham¬†made with saffron from¬†San Gimignano.
It is specially a distinct item in Persian Cuisine. Iranians usually place ground saffron in a small bowl and pour hot water over it. This way the aroma is released. Then they use it in cooking processes.
As there are some banking and trade restrictions for Iran, Iranian companies faced huge challenges in exporting Saffron abroad, specially to the US and Europe.¬†Therefore, when coming to Iran, Saffron is one of the things you‚Äôd better buy. Because of these sanctions, large markets were created in other countries producing artificially colored Saffron. There are also some countries acting as intermediaries by importing the genuine spice from Iran and rebranding and exporting it to other countries of the world in their own name and at higher prices!
How to distinguish high quality Iranian Saffron from low grade Saffron?
Genuine Persian Saffron threads are all in vivid crimson color with a slightly lighter orange-red color on the tips. This indicates that it‚Äôs not colored artificially. But, on the other hand, dull brick red color of Saffron is indicative of age, suggesting you not to buy that.
Aroma is strong and fresh in high quality Persian Saffron and there should not be broken-off debris collected at the bottom of container. Also if you see yellow or white plant parts mixed with the red threads, that is probably a sign of low grade Saffron. High quality Saffron threads are also dry and brittle to the touch, but in low grade one, you may see moister trapped inside for adding dead weight.
How much does Saffron Cost?
In Iran, Saffron has different grades. But currently, the price of good quality Saffron is about 120,000 Rials, which is about 3 dollars of US and almost 2 Euros. As the price of Dollar changes in Iran, Saffron price should be calculated based on the time you want to visit Iran.
Where to buy Saffron in Iran?
The main source of Saffron is Mashhad, which is located in north-east of Iran. you can find most of Persian Saffron selling shops around 17 Shahrivar Square in Mashhad. But in other cities like Shiraz, Isfahan, Yazd and Tehran you can easily buy Saffron as well.
Bear in mind that you cannot take more than 100 grams of Saffron out of Iran per passport.
Considering all this information, you will definitely decide to buy Saffron during your trip to Iran.