Discover Saffron

What is saffron?

Saffron is a spice from the Crocus sativus, flower that belongs to the sword lily family. The saffron derives from the stigma and styles — called threads — within the flower itself.

Farmers must harvest the delicate threads from each flower by hand. They then heat and cure the threads to bring out the flavor of the saffron. It takes about 1,000 flowers to produce just 28 gr (one ounce of saffron), and 190 flowers to produce a single gram (0,03 ounces).

This labor-intensive process makes saffron one of the most expensive spices in the world.


A Flower Protagonist of History

The threadlike red stigmas & the yellow hue they transmit have been used for centuries amongst the most prestigious and powerful empires across the world, kingdoms have used the spice for seasoning, fragrance, dyes & medicine. The history of saffron cultivation & usage reaches back to 3000 years spanning many cultures, continents & different civilizations. 

Native and known to be grown in Southwestern Asia (predominantly Afghanistan & Iran) it's said that the first cultivation was from 4000 years ago in 3000 BC in Greece. Saffron was first documented in 7th century BC Assyrian & Ottoman Tribe botanical tribe references. Since then documentation of saffron use spans 4000 years in the treatment of over ninety different illnesses have been uncovered. In the times of the Persian Empire, the kingdom had cultivated Saffron in Derbent (modern day Daegastan) Isfahan (modern day Spain) & Khorasan (modern day Herat located in the Western region of Afghansitan) by the 10th century BC

During his Asian Campaigns Alexander the Great used Saffron in his remedies, rice, baths as a curative for battle wounds. It was known that Cleopatra used saffron as a beauty cream. Indeed, the famous queen of Egypt used saffron to give a golden color to her skin. In the same era, saffron was used to dye cheeks, nails and hair. Women of that time also made abundant use of it in baths, ointments and oils.

King of Spices

The stigmas of the Crocus sativus are the saffron and it exudes a sweet and aromatic fragrance. Its sweet smell is quite deceptive because the taste of dried saffron is rather bitter. However, the bitterness does not prevail and if it were to be given an overall description it would probably be described as intense but light.

Each saffron thread has a unique taste of its own and it is this uniqueness that gives saffron its eclectic flavor. And if one would place saffron in water, a beautiful orange-red color will prevail. This is probably part of the reason why gourmets adore the scent and color that comes from the saffron spice.

Like other spices, saffron is also largely used in cooking and enriches several popular regional dishes such as paella in Spain, pulao rice in India, and khoreshes (stew dishes) in Iran and is included in a diverse array of meat, seafood, rice, and dessert recipes. For example, saffron is a key flavoring in French bouillabaisse and Italian risotto alla milanese, Iranian steamed saffron rice with tahdig (chelo ba tahdig), Persian almond cake with rose water, and Indian fried dough with saffron syrup (jalebi). 

Saffron processing factory

Super Negin Saffron

The word “Negin” means “diamond” in the ancient Afghani language alluding to its purity. Super Negin Saffron It is an organic product of the best quality and highly rich in nutritional elements. 

Nowadays, there are a lot of fake saffron spices in the market. It is because of these fakes that the International Organization for Standardization has established a standard for original saffron. This categorization is based on the concentration of one of the active principles present in this spice - the crocin - in order to determine its quality: 

Category I - Crocin > 190 (Grade A)

Category II - Crocin 150-190

Category III - Crocin 110-190

Category IV - Crocin 80-110

Moreover, considering other active principles of saffron. The ISO has set a minimum standard value of 20-70 for picrocrocin and safranal.

According to the ISO standard, the best quality saffron is the Class I, and this is the product of excellence that Ariana™ brings to your home. An organic saffron, of the highest quality and certified twice, in Afghanistan and Canada.  

Why Afghanistan?

Hot, dry winds over semi-arid lands - like that of Afghanistan - are perfect for the growing and cultivating saffron and other artisanal spices. Afghanistan has a semi-arid climate which has been deemed perfect for the growing and cultivation of NS.

This has helped the war torn country & its local farmers who for decades have been hopelessly growing opium & other illicit drugs for worldwide consumption. More & more farmers are now growing saffron due to its financial beneficiaries & to break the generational chains of the black market that has grown in Rural Afghanistan.

As of 2019 Saffron has been cultivated and grown in 33 out of the 34 provinces across the country producing over 19 metric tons.

Saffron farm in Afghanistan

How Can I incorporate Saffron Into my Diet?

Saffron can be added to beverages and foods. This superfood's growing appeal originates also from the increasing use of this spice by culinary chefs, health professionals, cosmetic experts and fit-fluencers around the world.

One simple way to supplement a meal with saffron is to add a few strands to a cup of hot water, and then add both the water and saffron to your preparation.

The suggested daily dose of saffron is in between 30 and 100 milligrams. In order to use saffron as a condiment and as a colorant for food, use a few stigmas. To increase the antioxidant effects of this spice on your body, Oriental Materia Medica, a text recognized by Health Canada, suggests to consume up to 0.5 grams (0.18 oz)  of saffron per day. 

Saffron is contraindicated during pregnancy, as it has a stimulating effect on the uterus.

To learn more about the health benefits of Saffron, visit this page

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