Identifying Different Types of Saffron

Today saffron is used as a unique spice in many different cuisines around the world to add an attractive flavor and aroma to various dishes. But did you know that saffron also has many health benefits and can act as a natural remedy? The medicinal properties of saffron have been known for thousands of years in regions such as Iran, with evidence dating back to ancient Persia. Thanks to the help of modern technology and medicine, saffron is gaining more popularity as a natural remedy. For example, saffron is known for its abundance of antioxidants, mood-boosting properties, benefits for metabolism, and its immune building properties. 

saffron threads

Although more countries are producing saffron now than ever before, Persian saffron is the most desired form of the crop. It is no wonder that Iran accounts for more than 90% of the world production of saffron!  

With the wider availability of saffron, consumers need to be able to identify the quality and types of saffron to avoid misleading information by many distributors that claim to sell the “highest quality saffron in the world”. However, there are specific laboratory assessments today that determined the quality of saffron being distributed. To make the work easier for our customers, at Tamsi Saffron we are ISO 3632 certified. This indicates that the types of saffron sold by Tamsi meet international standards for the highest grade of saffron, also known as Category I saffron. 

 

Measuring Saffron Quality 

To obtain ISO 3632 certification, the quality of Saffron is measured by conducting a lab analysis to measure the levels of Safranal, Crocin, and Picocrocin, the three important compounds present in saffron threads.

  1. Crocin (Coloring Strength) 
  •   It is an antioxidant and protects the nerves
  •   Potential effects for improving mood
International Category I Requirement:  > 190   Tamsi Negin Saffron Average:       278

 

  1. Safranal (Aroma Strength)
  •   Found in the stigmas of saffron
  •   Potential antidepressant properties
  •   High in antioxidants
  •   Immune-boosting properties
International Category I Requirement:  > 20 – 50 Tamsi Negin Saffron Average:       36.4

 

  1. Picrocrocin (Flavor Strength)
International Category I Requirement:  > 70   Tamsi Negin Saffron Average:       94.6

  

The price and quality of saffron are also determined by the type of saffron being sold. The different classifications of saffron are based on what portion of the saffron thread is trimmed.

Classifications of Persian Saffron  

 Among Persian saffron, there are four different trims commonly sold:

saffron thread diagaram

  1. Sargol:

    The word “Sargol” translates to “Top of the flower” in Farsi. As the name suggests, Sargol saffron is derived from the very tip of the saffron thread. This type of saffron is easy to identify thanks to its full red color and short threads. While Sargol saffron is extremely aromatic and powerful, it is often considered second in quality to Super Negin saffron (below) aesthetically due to containing crumbs and broken threads.

 

  1. Super Negin:

    This is the most expensive and rarest trim of saffron available. Super Negin saffron is known for both its potency and its aesthetic appearance. This type of saffron has longer stigma length compared to Sargol saffron and it does not contain any orange or yellow threads. The threads of Super Negin saffron are also cut symmetrically, avoiding crumbling of saffron threads. Super Negin is the most sought after saffron by those looking for the highest quality product. Moreover, Tamsi Saffron offers Super Negin saffron through special orders. To find out more, have a look at our special and wholesale orders page.

 

  1. Negin:

    Compared to Super Negin saffron, Negin saffron is longer in length and may contain some yellow and orange portions of the thread. In short, Negin Saffron is still very high in quality but can be more cost-effective due to the presence of some yellow or orange threads, making this saffron ideal for regular use at home. 

 

  1. Pushal

    Finally, Pushal saffron is the cheapest and most common type of saffron sold. Its low cost is a result of the saffron containing the orange and yellow parts of the saffron stigma. However, international distributors often take advantage of consumers by selling Pushal saffron with orange and yellow portions of the thread to increase their profit margins. Since the lighter colored portion of the saffron thread has little to no value, consumers are sometimes fooled into paying more for the saffron than its worth.

Additionally, to help Tamsi customers identify saffron quality, we’ve also put together a step-by-step guide to identifying pure saffron.

saffron threads in hand

If you’re purchasing saffron through a reputable source such as Tamsi, you can rest assured that you will be receiving a high-quality product. Tamsi Saffron also values transparency to all stakeholders, which is why we are happy to help you select the best type of saffron and product for your needs and we are always here to answer any questions about our saffron products, quality, or production process. 

 

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