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Information about Saffron :
Saffron, one of the oldest and the most expensive spice of the world, is a dried stigma of crocus sativus flowers, a small perennial plant, and is found in three regions only in the whole world and hence is of three types: Kashmiri, Iranian and Spanish. Iranian Saffron has a bright colour and distinctive flavour, Spanish saffron (which is of two types: Spanish Coupe saffron and Spanish superior saffron) is the most common saffron, also easiest to find, and has a strong colour and aroma. Kashmiri Saffron (“Shahi Zaffron” and “Mogra Zaffron”), the strongest-flavoured variety of saffron, is the world’s finest saffron and the most expensive as it is tough to obtain. It is dark red in colour and has long, perfect strands.
Kashmir saffron is one of the most popular spice ever not only because of its high cost but also because of the aroma and quality of taste that it adds to the dishes on which it is used. Apart from is value and expensive cost, it is also very difficult to obtain because it take around 150,000 crocuses flowers to extract around 35 ounces of best quality saffron in Kashmir. Iran is said to be the largest producer of saffron and it also has the largest plantation of saffron, which cater nearly to 85 percent of the world’s demand alone. Moreover, there are other countries also that are contributing to the production of saffron like India, Spain and Greece. It is said to be the oldest herbs to be utilized for different purposes such as cooking and for medical purposes also. Europeans are said to be the first to experiment in their cooking styles by using saffron. In the Asian sub continents, saffron is used for conducting many religious ceremonies.
These all features and uses make saffron the most expensive spice in the world but there are certain problems that many face while trying to buy quality saffron. It is because of its multiple purposes and its high monetary value many of the market entities have started indulging in mal-practices that include selling low quality saffron on high costs. This is the reason why one should be very careful while purchasing saffron. The quality saffron will always be deep orange red color and the aroma will be unique that one can feel while opening a can itself. Although the saffron is a very valuable spice but its quality can be easily compromised by adding different substitutes that have similar appearances and tastes, while some of the materials are being dyed in the same color as that of the original saffron. Some of the original quality saffron has a mixture of both red and yellow color in the strands that represent its genuine quality. There are several factors that one should consider while purchasing saffron from outside.
There are many dealers around the world that promise to provide quality saffron but a person should confirm whether the dealer can guarantee you about its quality and you yourself can also judge its quality by following some of the above-mentioned measures and also by searching the internet about quality saffron and its attributes.
In Kashmir, Pampore, 13km from Srinagar, is the place where Saffron is grown. Here saffron flowers bloom for about three weeks, from mid-October to the first days of November. A hundred kg of fresh flowers yield about three kilograms of dehydrated stigmas, which constitute the premium and the most costly saffron, called “Shahi Zafran”. The remaining flower parts are proceeded further to obtain inferior grades, called “Mogra Zafran”.
Besides being used for its medicinal properties, Saffron is used as a spice in a variety of dishes. It is also used in a number of other industries such as tobacco industry, dye industry, alcohol industry, dairy industry and cosmetic industry for perfumes and facial creams. Further it is used by the Tibetan Monks for praying and blessing and by calligraphers to write religious books such as Quran and thus has religious importance as well.
The benefits of saffron, also known as “kesar” in rest of India, keep on increasing and so does its demand in the world market.