Ninety-five percent of the world’s saffron comes from Iran. It has traditionally been grown in Khorasan, an area (about the size of England) in the north-east of Iran with ideal soil and climate conditions for the crop. Saffron is a valuable spice with origins in Zagros Mountains area in “Mede” era. Saffron which takes a lot of labor to produce, is actually a very small part of the plant Crocus Sativus Lineas and everything about it is really interesting.
Every day during the one-month harvest season that starts around mid-October more than four hundred thousand people in southern Khorasan get up before dawn to go to the fields and pick the beautiful delicate lilac flowers that have bloomed overnight. They must be picked before being exposed to too much sunshine. The flowers are then carried in wicker baskets to the processing areas where the stigmas are patiently removed by hand.
The next step is to gently toast the stigmas in order to dry them before they are tested, sorted, packed and sealed, insuring that the full, unique and exquisite flavor, aroma and color of this “vegetable gold” reaches the consumer.