According to Greek mythology about saffron, handsome mortal Crocos of saffron fell in love with the beautiful nymph Smilax. But alas, his favors were rebuffed by Smilax, and he was turned into a beautiful purple crocus flower.
Iran accounts for nearly 94% of the world´s production, with the vast majority of it being produced in the southern regions of the country. According to other historical articles, saffron was brought to India by the Persian (Iranian) rulers around 500 BC. The Persian rulers transplanted the Iranian saffron flower or crocus corms to the Kashmiri soils, once they conquered Kashmir. According to ancient Chinese historical account an Arhant Indian Buddhist missionary named Madhyantika (or Majjhantika) sowed Kashmir`s first saffron crop when he was sent to Kashmir in the 5th century BC. Saffron cultivation and its uses are believed to spread through the Indian subcontinent from Kashmir. The huge popularity of saffron during that time made it the official colour for Buddhist robes and mantles, immediately after the death of Lord Buddha.
In Iran , the world's leading producer, the erstwhile and north-easterly Khorasan Province that in 2004 was divided in three separate province , grows 95 percent of Iranian saffron: the hinterlands of Birjand city, Ghaen ( ghayen ), Ferdows in South Khorasan Province, along with areas abutting Gonabad and Torbat-e Heydarieh in Razavi Khorasan Province, are its key cropping areas. Afghanistan has resumed cultivation in recent years; in restive Kashmir, it has waned. Despite numerous cultivation efforts in such countries as Austria, England, Germany, and Switzerland, only select locales continue the harvest in northern and central Europe. Among these is the small Swiss village of Mund, in the Valais canton, whose annual saffron output amounts to several kilograms. Microscale cultivation occurs in Tasmania, China, Egypt, France, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Turkey (especially Safranbolu), California, and Central Africa.
Saffron, with its sweet smell reminiscent of honeyed hay, and glorious golden colour, has long been prized throughout history as a delicious spice and a valuable golden-yellow food dye. Produced from a beautiful purple crocus, the parts used to make both spice and dye are the stigma and styles, tiny protrusions from the heart of the flower. So small are these parts that it takes between 50,000 and 75,000 flowers to produce one pound of the dried spice, making it no surprise that it is said to be worth its weight in gold! High-quality saffron is saffron which has a decent colouring capability (completely red ) and has a pleasant aroma. Originating in Southwest Asia, it is now cultivated in large amounts in Iran, Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco, and Italy. Small cultivations are found throughout the world and can be seen in specialty markets, but these seven countries are the world´s largest producers of commercial saffron.
You need to be very cautious in purchasing saffron in order to get the pure Persian variety. In order to have an informed buying decision, consider the latest figures on global saffron production: Italian Saffron – 1MT per year or less, Spanish Saffron – 2MT per year or less, Kashmir Saffron –3 MT per year, Moroccan Saffron 4 MT per year, Greek Saffron 6 MT per year, and Iranian Saffron 230 MT per year. It is clear. Spain is not the biggest saffron producer, it is Iran. For years, the country has been supplying the biggest volume and highest quality of saffron in the different parts of the world. For your information, the saffron market lies in the hands of packers, not farmers. As a general rule of thumb, packers purchase all the saffron they are offered and then have to sell it immediately so that they can make claims that it is from the latest crop year. So, saffron enters the market as a combination of various qualities from various countries. The ultimate rule is the lowest price. When it comes to quality the packer just has a little concern. You will notice this when you open a sample of mediocre saffron and observe the mixture of white, yellow and red material left attached to the saffron flower’s stigma or just yellow material included. You will also notice a spongy texture and musty smell because of the excess moistures. In our saffron, you will only find saffron stigma.