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Iranian Saffron or Persian Saffron known as the “red gold”, saffron is a magical ingredient in Persian culture, from aromatic foods and colorful desserts, to the physical and spiritual medicine.

Iranian Saffron or Persian Saffron known as the “red gold”, saffron is a magical ingredient in Persian culture, from aromatic foods and colorful desserts, to the physical and spiritual medicine. The expensive spice has long been a high-demand commodity and even triggered a war in 1374 in central Europe. While 94% of the world’s saffron is grown in Iran, “Iranian saffron” is unknown in the world, because most of Iran’s saffron is exported in bulk to Spain, so the world knows saffron by the name of Spain, not Iran. Let’s take a closer look at saffron in Iran and see why you should keep it in your souvenir shopping list.

Where did Saffron come from?

The history of saffron and its use by humans is more than 3500 years old and has historically been among the most expensive materials in the world. Greeks claim that saffron came from their land first, tell that to any Iranian and you will get a laughter! A stronger hypothesis says that cultivation of saffron first took place in Iran. In ancient Iran, in the 10th century BC, saffron was cultivated in the cities of Darband (Russia) and Isfahan. The strings of Persian saffron are mixed with royal carpets and shrouds of the dead. In ancient Iran, worshipers used saffron as an offering to God, and as a bright yellow color, perfume, and medicine. The arguments on origins of the precious spice are endless, so let’s take a look at the fact that currently, Iranians are the biggest producers of saffron in the world (85% of the world’s saffron grown in a year, roughly about 390 tons!) The number is huge, considering that every 500 saffron stigmas weighs only one gram.

Harvest Season

Every year, the saffron harvest season begins in early November. While most other vegetation are gone, the bright purple flowers cover the fields and create an outstanding landscape in dry regions in Iran. Major saffron producers of Iran are located in the east side of the country. If you would like to see the biggest market, head to Mashhad, which is also known for its religious importance. But if you are more curious about where saffron comes from, remember the cities of Gonabad, Torbat Heydariyeh, Taybad, Khaf, and Qaen. All of these cities are located in Khorasan region and their harvest season begin around November 1st, lasts about two, at most three weeks.

Harvesting of saffron begins before sunrise, when flowers have still not opened up. Men and women head to the field and start picking the flowers as fast as they can, by the first rays of the sun, the flowers magically bloom in a sudden act. Work stops at around 9 AM when the flowers are taken to a shaded area to seperate. Everyone sits around a huge pile of flowers and carefully takes the three stigmas out. Remember the 500 stigmas for a gram of saffron? It takes about 167 saffron flowers to produce only one gram. That is why saffron is so precious.

Saffron has long been used as a special seasoning in Iranian kitchens. A thin layer of saffron mixed rice on top of the white pile of rice and barberries, next to aroma and color of chicken kebab (joojeh kabab), all promise a welcoming hospitality. Iranians appreciate saffron and use it moderately, they believe that overuse of saffron can harm their mental health. They enjoy it in the flavorful saffron ice cream (Bastani Sonnati) in hot days of summer, or serve it in bowls of sweet rice pudding (Sholeh Zard) in religious ceremonies. Some people also make a refreshing herbal tea out of it, along with rose petals.

Traditions

Saffron and its magical power comes in many traditions and rituals. Iranians believe that saffron eradicates sadness and depression. It is associated with happiness, so they use it in many sweets and food they make for the Persian New Year (Norouz). Ancient kings used to scatter gold coins and saffron among people in events of ceremonies or victories. In their palaces, saffron was used as perfume, medicine or as incense along with ambergris. Saffron was also used to color paper to be used for important letters or prayers, and to dye silk and other textile for the cloths of the royal family.

Current Rituals

In Shahroud, in the province of Semnan, there exist a tradition called “Ab Do’a” (prayer water). Hours before the Norouz, in many mosques of the city, saffron is prepared to make a yellow ink. Calligraphers then use the ink to write 7 verses of Quran, all starting with the word Salam (greetings), on a floral porcelain plate. The plate is then submerged into a copper bowl full of water, so the yellow color disoves. This water is taken in small portions to the houses to be places by the Haft Seen table set or to be drank by the ill. It is considered to have healing power for the illnesses and to bring good fortune for the family in the coming year.

Keep saffron in an airtight container, in dark, cool and dry place. Do not keep it in the freezer, as the freezing temperature will reduce its aroma. Brew it before using it in cooking. Persians have different ways of brewing saffron. They grind the fragile stigmas in a small mortar, then mix it with hot water and put it in a warm place. Other people cold brew it. They put the ground saffron in a small bowl and put a piece of ice on it. As the ice melts, the astonishing dark orange color reveals. You can add some of this saturated aromatic liquid to a chicken or meat dish, or just like Iranians add it to some cooked rice to decorate the plate.

Try The Saffron Tea

Take two or three stigmas and a few rose petals, put them in a small pot or large mug of hot, not boiling water. Let it brew for about 10 minutes. Enjoy it with a little bit of honey.

Try Saffron Milk

Grind a few stigmas of saffron and one cardamom pod, add it to milk and boil the milk till the color and the aroma reaches its highest. Enjoy it with some sugar or honey.

Due to the high price of saffron, it is necessary to know it before buying because the high price of saffron has motivated some profiteers of fraudsters and there are many counterfeit brands in the market.

  • Look for well-known and reputable brands. Even if these brands sell the product at discounted prices, you will have a safe purchase.
  • Use your eyes. Saffron threads have a bright red color with a slightly lighter tip. Blurry red means the product is old. While cheating on saffron colors can be very simple, real saffron is formed in strands with different ends. Saffron yarns are the same size, but different in color. When all yarns are exactly the same red, they may be dyed to hide the true color beneath.
  • Try to taste saffron, real saffron will have a bitter and slightly astringent or sharp taste when placed on the tongue. If it tastes sweet, it is probably counterfeit.
  • Saffron yarns should be dry and brittle and not soft and sticky. You should see broken pieces of saffron at the bottom of the package.
  • Try to smell the saffron well. If the scent is a cross between dry grass and honey, it is probably real, and if you do not inhale the scent, it can be fake. Saffron gives a fresh and fragrant scent. If it smells old or you feel that some chemical has been added to it, then avoid it.
  • Know the types of saffron slices. The highest quality saffron yarn is Sargol, which is also called red or premium red. This saffron contains only the bright red part of the stigma and the yellow part is removed before the drying process. The more the saffron is cut to a lighter color, the lower its quality.
  • The packaging must show the date of harvest and this date must be close to the present time.
  • Test saffron with water. Put saffron thread in water to give its color to water. In both cases, whether the product is fake or genuine, the water gets the same color, but when the yarn is removed, if the saffron has lost its color, it means it is counterfeit and dyed, and if it has retained its color, it means it is authentic and original.
  • Do a Sodium bicarbonate test. Mix a small amount of Sodium bicarbonate in a glass of water and then add saffron. Water / Sodium bicarbonate mixture should turn yellow if it is pure saffron, while fake saffron makes the water red.

If you live outside of Iran and have a dream of tasting Pure Iranian Saffron, you may be wondering where you can get fresh & Pure Iranian Saffron !!!
The answer to this question is simple. An Iranian Online Grocery Store is the best choice.
But which Online Grocery Shop can you trust or which website offers a variety of products at reasonable prices? 

The best online stores that selling  Pure Iranian Saffron is ShopiPersia.com website. Why ShopiPersia !!! Because ShopiPersia is the largest online Persian Grocery Shop from the public point and has been operating for almost 5 years. One of the key advantages of this website is the focus on customer satisfaction, which has been very important throughout this activity. ShopiPersia located exactly in Iran, Therefore, they offer Pure Saffron that can not be found in other online and offline Stores.

ShopiPersia is a brunch of Persian Gulf Trading Co., and we are specialize in exporting saffron to all countries. We offer different grades of Persian Saffron with economic prices and highest quality.

To order Persian Saffron, you can contact us through one of the communication channels so that our specialists can guide you.

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