Some Interesting Information About Grading of Saffron

Saffron threads are the dried orange / red stamens of a crocus species.

Saffron is very expensive, but that's understandable: Each flower contains only three stigmas and for producing of 5 grams of saffron approximately 600 to 850 flowers are needed, which should be picked first by hand and then must be further processed.

Saffron can be sold in powder form and ' Philemon '.

Saffron usually carefully should be packed and because moisture and light are it`s greatest enemies. Thus keep saffron dry and dark.

Origin:

Iran is the largest producer of saffron with over 90 % of total world production. Outside Europe, saffron is grown in Morocco, Iran, Kashmir and China.

In Europe, Spain is the largest producer of saffron. In southern France, Greece and other countries around the Mediterranean saffron can be grown.

Fact:

 Since still it is believed that the best saffron comes from Spain, the Spanish product cannot meet the world demand. That’s why the country imports saffron from Iran, which often without indication of origin get sold.

Quality:

Since the determining of quality of saffron in powder form is difficult, it is advisable to purchase it in threads, which it`s quality better can be assessed. In Good saffron the threads should be bright orange to blood red of color. If a lot of brown or white threads are found in saffron, it is a poor quality. 

International grading:

The quality of saffron is determined by the amount of Crocina (pigment), safranal (aromatic oil) and picrocrocina (flavor), which saffron contains.

Internationally, there is the standard of ISO 3632 for the quality of saffron established. In a laboratory and by a spectroscope it can be measured how much pigment (Crocina ) is present in a sample .

Saffron in view point of color strength can be categorized into the following four categories:

Grade I (the best) , Grade II , Grade II and Grade IV ( the poorest ) .

Quality

ISO score

 Grade  I 

> 190

Grade II

150 - 190 

Grade II1

10 - 150  

 

Grade IV

80 – 110

 

Spanish Grading:

In Spain saffron is traditionally classified into the following classes: Selecto (first grade), Rio, Standard and Sierra (lowest quality).

There is also “out of category cases” which is particularly powerful because still include the lower quality lower parts of the stigmas. This can be obviously found in the name of quality which is called Coupe (= cut up).

The name Selecto is no longer used, this quality is sold today under the name of LaMancha which refers to the center of the Spanish saffron cultivation

Spain

Quality Score

La Mancha

180-190

Rio

150-180

Standard

145-150

Sierra

<110 

Sargol (= literally "Top of the Flower ') saffron from Iran exists as the Coupe Spanish saffron only from the upper parts of the stigmas.

There is a difference. Spanish saffron is already Coupe quality at ISO score above 190. Sargol the saffron from Iran gets the laboratory values usually above 230.

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