Introduction and Information about Saffron
The Crocus Sativus bulb, best known as “Saffron”, is part of the Iridaceae family, and it is mainly grown in Asia Minor and in different areas of the Mediterranean basin according to specific technical practices, monitored by inspection bodies, preserving the quality of the soil for a guaranteed result.
From the stigma of the flowers the spice, known as “saffron”, is extracted, and used mainly for cooking and medicinal preparations. The word saffron comes from the latin term safranum, which comes in turn from the Arabic term zaʻfarān (زعفران) (from aṣfar (أَصْفَر), which means “yellow”.
Nowadays, the main producing country of Saffron is Iran, Spain, Morocco and for lower amounts Italy ( the most important farmings are in the Marches, in Abruzzi, in Sardinia and also in Tuscany and Umbria), and in some emergent countries.
From the botanic point of view, the saffron bulb is part of the Crocus genus in the Iridaceae family, which includes 80 different breeds. The bulb is a tuber 5 cm across which contains about 20 different buds that produce the organs of the bulb; generally, only the 3 main buds give birth to flowers and leaves , the smaller ones will give birth to minor bulbs.
During the vegetative development, the main buds of the bulb give rise to the so-called shoots, about 2 or 3 for each bulb, one for each bud. The shoots enrolled in a white hard protective cuticle , will allow to the bulb to hole the crust of the soil, emerging from the soil itself.
Once the shoot has come out of the soil, given that it contains the flowers and the leaves , already developed, it opens allowing the extension of the leaves and the full opening of the flower. The saffron flower is composed of 6 deep violet petals, and it is by consequence a perigonium, whose male part consist of 3 yellow anthers where the pollen rests; the female part consist of an ovary, that is a style and deep red stigma.
Behind the bulb, the ovary give birth to the yellow style which passing trough the shoot down to the basis of the flower, divides into 3 long stigma . The leaves are tight and lengthened, of 30/35 cm of length, they are less than 5 cm across.
The Crocus sativus spice, that is the saffron, includes more than 150 volatile aromatic substances, very rich in carotenoids, Zeaxanthin, Lycopene, alfa and beta carotenoids. The crocins and in particular the α-crocin gives to the spice the colour, through a chemical reaction called esterification between the β-D gentiobiose and the crocetin; the safranal gives to the spice the aroma and has antioxidant properties, while the picrocrocin gives the taste.
Saffron spice’s qualities and evaluation criteria
The saffron is one of the worldwide most expensive spices thanks to its various and different qualities.
Given that the species of saffron and the quality of the spice are strictly correlated with the price, it is quite important to recognise them. Depending on the type of bulb, its place of origin, that is the area in which it is produced, the type of processing ( drying with an electric oven) and its storage ( dampness degree of the rooms) you can obtain different varieties of saffron.
According to the International classification the parameters used to to evaluate the saffron are:
The colouring power of the threads (stigmas) of the saffron, expressed in Coupé;
The aroma of the Saffron due to the Safranol and to the acidulous degree connected to the crocins.
It is recommended to avoid saffron powder because it’s more liable to adulteration with colouring powders.
The saffron varieties provided by MBS
Maroc Business Strategies can provide directly from the producer:
IRANIAN : High-quality Iranian saffron in threads;
MOROCCAN: BIO Moroccan saffron, bio-certified, with laboratory testing; it is nowadays the best variety of saffron on the market.
MBS is engaged with its partners in the negotiation of the price with the producers, in the export of saffron from Iranian and Moroccan areas, and also in the import in the EU or Extra-Eu territory, delivering the product to the firm interested in the purchase, using the terms of surrender Incoterms and the payment terms agreed.