Iranian Saffron VS Spanish Saffron: Which one is Better?
Hispanic people call Saffron by a different name. It is Azafrán in Spanish and is a spice that has a very special place in their history. It had such a high place that it was used as currency!
It has commonly been assumed that Saffron originated and was first cultivated in Greece, but today the spice is primarily grown in Iran, Greece, Morocco, India, and Spain.
Saffron as we all know, is a very elegant spice that is the little red stigma part in the center of the purple Crocus flower. Each bulb produces 2-3 flowers. The timing is pretty important when it comes to harvesting Saffron. The plants bloom in October and November and must be harvested within a day, or their color and flavor will be reduced.
Traditionally, the flowers are collected by the farmers and then, passed along to the women of the area to separate the red stigma parts from the rest of the plant. Then they have to dry them.
Farming families used to store some of the Saffron and use it as a sort of savings account. Keep in mind that it takes about 200 Crocus flowers to make 1 gram of this spice! When you merge that with the hand-picking of the flowers, you’ll see why it is so expensive!
We always recommend that you purchase true Saffron threads, and stay as far away from the ground powders. This way you’ll know that you are purchasing Saffron and not some cheap replacement.
We mostly talked about the value of this spice in the lives of Spanish people but in today’s article, we want to learn more about the differences between Iranian and Spanish Crocus sativus.
Iran has 95 percent of the world’s production, but many people think Spain has got a bigger number. Spanish Saffron, while not being the largest producer, still grows pretty good Saffron, but it still can’t compete with the Iranian one.
First, we should say that Spain produces about one tonne of it a year, while exports 100 tonnes in the same amount of time. They mainly get Iranian products and repackage them under the name of their brands. Sometimes they even blend some low-quality Spanish spice with their Iranian Saffron and export them to other countries. Another point is that it needs hot and dry summers. This climate can be found in some parts of Iran such as Khorasan province. Due to ecological conditions and suitable climate in Iran for Saffron cultivation, this herb is produced with higher quality.
The differences are noticeable. In chemical analysis of Saffron, where the organoleptic qualities or the Crocin (coloring component), the Picocrocin (Flavor Component), and Safranal (Aromatic Component) are very different depending on where they come from. Currently, Iran is the largest producer in the world with more than 90% of world production. Next to that, it would be Spain, Morocco, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Italy, and Greece.
QUALIFYING OF SAFFRON
In Iran, mainly because there is so much Crocus sativus to harvest, sometimes the process doesn’t go in the way it is supposed to. The flower is sometimes manipulated and moved until it is cleaned and this factor affects the quality since there is no freshness in the spice anymore. The process of Harvesting Premium Negin is a bit different and it overcomes this problem.
The same thing happens in Spain. Sometimes it is left to be sun-dried. This is one of the worst ways to dry out the spice because the resulting will not have the great potency it needs.
HOW TO DISTINGUISH THE IRANIAN SAFFRON OF SPANISH?
The Spanish Saffron has a wider and thicker body. Its threads are not as long as Iranian Saffron and it includes some white parts that some people don’t like in their Saffron.
The Iranian Saffron has a narrower and finer body than the Spanish. It usually doesn’t have any white parts and it has a dark red color without any intensity. This is due to drying by the sun or being dehydrated in vast quantities by ovens. In this case, some parts are more toasted than others and the spice that is not well roasted tends to darken more than necessary. If the Saffron is dark, it is a sign that the Crocin will be lower than what it is supposed to be.