Saffron is one of the rarest, most precious, and most expensive spices in the world. Even though saffron is used in numerous dishes around the world, its usage originated in Iran. Still today, saffron plays an indispensable role in Persian cuisine and culture. In this article, we gathered some facts about saffron and its quality grades. Furthermore, we created an overview of the best Iranian saffron brands available online.
What is saffron?
Saffron are the stigmas of the Saffron crocus, or Crocus sativus, plant. In the current day, Iran produces over 90% of the world production of saffron. The price of saffron depends on the saffron grade. Overall, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and can reach prices of up to USD 6,000 per kg. However, cooking with saffron is not necessarily expensive. Due to the strong aromas, most recipes only require a minor amount of saffron.
Next to Iran, other saffron producing countries are Greece, Morocco, Spain and India. However, in most of these countries, the quality of saffron is much lower, resulting in cheaper but inferior saffron than Persian saffron.
If we compare Iranian saffron versus Spanish saffron, Iranian saffron usually has a much higher quality than Spanish saffron. In the production of Spanish saffron, La Mancha saffron (lower grade Spanish saffron) and Portuguese saffron are blended with some high-quality Iranian saffron. Therefore, Spanish saffron is often adulterated and of lower quality than Iranian saffron.
Persian saffron grades
Iranian saffron comes into different quality levels. They all come from the same flower Crocus sativus. However, the stigma of the plant is divided into different quality sections. At its tip, the stigma splits into three separate parts that are completely red and the highest-quality part of the saffron.
If these three strands are harvested as one, the saffron is called Super Negin or Negin. They are both a grade 1 saffron and include the three intensely red parts of the stigma of the Crocus sativus plant as one piece.
The second highest quality is called Sargol. Sargol also includes only the intense red parts of the stigma but the two strands don’t necessarily need to be harvested in one piece. Therefore, sargol has the same taste in quality as negin and is also grade 1 saffron.
Pushal saffron also includes parts of the less colored and less aromatic style of the stigma. It is considered grade 2 saffron. Khooshe saffron is the lowest quality saffron as it mostly consists of the lower parts of the stigma only. That part is not very aromatic and very little colored. We do not recommend buying pushal or khooshe saffron.
Best Iranian saffron available online
If you are planning to buy the best Persian saffron online, here is a list of some of the best brands and types of saffron. The Iranian saffron price ranges from $4 to $7 per gram. The quality grade as well as the size of the packaging greatly influence the price.
Our Recommendation: Zaran Saffron, Premium All Red Saffron Spice
Our Rating: 5/5 Stars
Quality Grade: Super Negin, Grade 1 Saffron
Zaran produces one of the best Iranian saffron and promises to source and distribute the purest and the freshest grade of saffron available in the world. The super negin saffron threads are analyzed and tested in certified laboratories. Moreover, they do not add moisture to increase the weight, and never sell an adulterated or old product.
The flowers used in producing the Zaran saffron are all organically harvested, which ensures the best quality in terms of color, flavor, and aroma. As the name suggests, the threads are all red without any yellow crumbs, and they are thoroughly tested in laboratories to meet the highest standards in the industry. The saffron is delivered in a convenient tin can that guarantees a long-lasting freshness.
And the best thing: This premium Iranian saffron for sale on Amazon comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If there is anything wrong with the product, you will get your money back.
Golden Saffron, Grade 1 Persian Saffron
Our Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Quality Grade: Super Negin, Grade 1 Saffron
Golden Saffron is premium-quality saffron that specializes in whole red saffron of the grade super negin. The threads are 100% naturally red and exclude any preservatives or chemicals. They are extracted from organic plants, and you will also find debris at the bottom of the container, which ensures that the saffron is hand-separated. Moreover, it is not mixed with any further plants.
The saffron is flash-dried and fresh and is brought directly from the original location of the first saffron flower. There is no moisture present in the can, ensuring dry threads and a long-lasting product. The authentic quality results in a refreshing flavor and aroma. The vivid stigmas and the natural fragrance make it an ultimate choice among customers to use in a variety of food such as risotto, paella, rice, and even Persian saffron tea.
The Perfect Gift: Zaffrus Super Premium All Red Saffron Threads
Our Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Quality Grade: Sargol, Grade 1 Saffron
Zaffrus saffron manufactures premium quality saffron. Their natural product goes through rigorous lab testing while passing through the high requirements of ISO 3632-1 standard in terms of color, flavor, and aromatic elements. It also maintains the highest food safety standards.
Zaffrus saffron comes in a luxury package that is uniquely designed to keep the saffron fresh and makes a perfect gift opportunity. Numerous Persian recipes use saffron as a coloring and aroma ingredient. If you want to show your Persian relatives that you care, surprise them with this beautiful glass of saffron that comes in a premium packagin. The value packs also contain food-grade silica gel that controls the humidity in the box and keeps the threads fresh.
Looking for more gift ideas for your Persian friends of family? Check out the best Persian gifts for women or for men.
Mehr Saffron, Premium All Red Saffron
Our Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Quality Grade: Negin, Grade 1 Saffron
Mehr Saffron is the first saffron brand in North America that received the Superior Taste recognition from the International Taste and Quality Institute. The quality is unquestionable and it is one of the most trusted saffron brands among customers. It is great for cooking traditional Persian and international dishes such as saffron rice, saffron milk, khoresht ghieme, chicken masala, and more.
Moreover, apart from the exotic flavor, splendid taste, and beautiful aroma, the premium all red saffron is also known for its myriad health benefits. It has active antioxidant components, is suitable for skin and hair, and increases the serotonin levels in the brain, and helps you maintain a good mood.
To make the best use of Mehr saffron, crumble the strands or grind them before putting them into the dish that you are preparing. You can also make a saffron infusion by adding a small quantity of pre-heated liquid to the ground saffron and leaving for about 20 minutes for the color, taste, and aroma to infuse out.
Mehr Saffron also makes an excellent gift for family and friends alike. The product is packed in a gorgeous golden box that retains the quality as well as the look.
Health benefits of saffron
Saffron is rich in minerals and plant compounds. Therefore, it is widely used in the industry of medicines. Moreover, it also serves as a potent source of antioxidants and protects the body against free radicals and also reduces the risk of cancer. The spice is also known for protecting brain cells and develops memory function and curbs Alzheimer’s. Saffron is also a vital source of anti-aging nutrients that make it a primary ingredient in many cosmetic products.
The distinctive flavor and aroma of saffron make it a chief ingredient in cuisines across the world, most notably in Iran. The spice has a special place in Persian dishes and even beverages such as tea. It is used to cook the Persian rice, known as Tachin, and it is also added to Sharbats, drinks, and tea. Persians also like to use saffron as an ingredient in baking cakes and desserts like Bastani (traditional ice cream), Shole-Zard (saffron rice pudding), and Persian Halva.
Saffron is one of the most expensive and sought-after spices in the world that is used for various purposes. There are different factors that must be considered before buying. The size of the threads is one of many such vital factors. Secondly, check the quality and make sure that it is organically harvested and hand-separated. Therefore, it will preserve the distinctive taste and fragrance of the saffron. Thirdly, ensure that the saffron is red with no white or yellow crumbs in the package.
The brands mentioned above of saffron have garnered quite a reputation for manufacturing the best saffron in the world. They are thoroughly tested in the lab and are organically produced with zero moisture content. Therefore, you can put your trust in these brands and bring to your kitchen the exotic flavors of some of the best saffron.
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