There is something magical about saffron. Maybe, it's the striking bright red stigmas that always catch my eye and evoke images of vibrant florid Indian fabrics. Perhaps, I'm struck by its deep aroma that smells of honey with notes of grass and hay. Either way, I'm in love with this spice.
While walking through the colorful Spice Souk in Dubai, I visited several shops where they sell saffron. A merchant showed me different kinds and let me pick up a bundle of the Iranian Sargol saffron from its style, the yellow part of the plant below the red threads. Most people are shocked by the high prices of saffron. Iran is the world's largest producer.
Recently, international sanctions against Iran have contributed to rising saffron prices. Seventy-five percent of Iran's saffron is exported to the United Arab of Emirates and Spain. However, the main reason why saffron is so expensive can be attributed to its harvest. 150 saffron crocus flowers must be plucked by hand to produce just one gram of red saffron stigmas. Persian saffron is the highest quality of saffron. Suggestions on how to purchase saffron can be found after the jump.
How to purchase saffron?
Since saffron is so expensive, you will want to make sure that you buy the best kind. Below are three easy features to look for when purchasing saffron:
- Color - Saffron threads should be all red. They should not include the white and yellow parts.
- Touch - The threads should feel brittle and dry.
- Smell - It should be fresh and strong, and never ever musty.