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Iran is known for a few things but offering the best saffron in the world is definitely a national achievement, not to mention the largest production of the spice which accounts for 89% of the world’s supply. The spice is valued in Persian culture for its strong therapeutic power as well as exotic aromatic effect which makes Persian cousin even more appealing.
Famous Iranian rice is elevated even more with the eye-catching golden color and musky taste of saffron while becoming more balanced in terms of digestibility. It is proven effective in healing mental and metabolic health concerns such as depression, insomnia, high blood sugar and pressure, digestive problems, heart conditions, and even helps with weight loss.
It is extremely potent in elevating mood and inducing happiness thus making it a potent functional superfood.
But what makes the Iranian saffron so different from the counterparts in the world? In this article, we will find out!
Statistics published by the Ministry of Agriculture show that a cultivation area of about 105,000 hectares is dedicated to the Crocus Sativus L. plant that yields 336 tons of dry stigma. The Plant belongs to the iris family which has a purple flower with 3 scarlet red stigmas. The flowers are harvested in the fall.
Every morning before sunrise the plant produces a flower which must be picked by hand immediately otherwise the sun exposure will damage it. The flowering continues for 30 days so is the picking. The stigmas which are actually the female reproductive system of the flower are then plucked and processed by drying and packaging.
One kilogram of saffron only consists of 140,000 threads. The whole production is labor-intensive which explains the high price tag, making it the most expensive spice in the world. The main producing region in Iran in the province of South Khorasan in the northeast of the country.
Iranian saffron looks different and feels different because it has a unique chemical structure that provides the color, taste, aroma, and medicinal power.
Threads of Iranian saffron are tall and strong without a sign of breakage or debris. Its color is crimson red, turning lighter at the tips. This effect makes it easier to spot fake saffron which has been dyed red all the way to the top of the thread. When soaked and cooked, its coloring ability is potent, creating a strong golden yellow unmatched by anything else. Its aroma is distinctively heartwarming and mind-calming. Just a few threads can fill the space with a heavenly aroma causing immediate happiness and mood lift. Its taste is slightly bitter yet luxurious.
A study conducted on Iranian saffron proved its genetic composition is unique and different from other products. The cp-DNA sequences which are an efficient molecular barcode for differentiating genotypes showed that Iranian saffron is unique in the world. Gene diversity index (GST) analysis revealed significant molecular differences with other products.
The main compounds in saffron are crocins, picrocrocin, and safranal which are responsible for its color, taste, aroma, and therapeutic power. They contribute to its overall quality. In the above-mentioned study, the bioactive compounds in saffron collected from Iran were quantified with a fast screening method for the analysis by using an optimized HPLC-DAD in a MATLAB environment. The analysis showed crocins and picrocrocin are the most affecting factors in the categorization of saffron and most of the pharmacological activities are due to their presence of them.
The compounds are carotenoids and flavonoids which are known anti-oxidants, scavenging free radicals and donating single hydrogen atoms in order to stabilize them. They protect against inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species. They are significantly efficient in the modulation of oxidative stress acting as anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, anti-atherogenic, anti-hypertensive, anti-bacterial, and hypolipidemic. Surprisingly they are uniquely abundant and bioavailable in Iranian saffron!
Geographical and bioclimatic distribution of saffron depends on the texture of the soil which is the most influential indicator resulting from the sand percentage. Saffron is best grown in medium texture soil with natural drainage and adequate food in warm and dry climates. In terms of essential minerals, calcium carbonate is the most influential which reduces the PH and inhibits the absorption of other minerals such as Iron, Manganese, and Phosphorus.
These micronutrients are necessary for soil fertility and saffron growth; therefore, a proper balance is an absolute necessity. It seems that Iranian soil is perfectly adequate in terms of mineral composition and texture.
There is a reason for Iranian Saffron to be known as the Best in the World. It is scientific as much as the personal opinion of many people. Its genetic and chemical composition is rare resulting in a unique color, aroma, taste, and therapeutic properties.
Persian saffron is the gift of strong soil which nourishes a beautiful flower with a very unique character. It is the fruit of the labor of hardworking hands in the dawn.
Once you try Iranian saffron, you will see the stark difference. You will be hooked forever, enjoying it in your meals, perhaps a pinch in your drinks, and sprinkled in your desserts, making them more magical. You will even consider it as a gift to someone close to your heart as it has a strong positive effect on heart health and happiness.
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