Saffron is one of the most precious spices in the world. It has been widely used over the world for over three millennia. The earliest documentation of the use of Saffron was found among the compilations that date back to the 7th century BC, during the rule of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.
Treasured for its rich golden color and pungent flavor, Saffron is used today to flavor and color many dishes popular in the Middle East. It is also used as an alternative medicine to treat a wide variety of illnesses. In the past, saffron was used to dye clothes and even used to create stunning al fresco paintings.
The dried hair-like filaments are derived from the stigmas of the Saffron crocus. Each flower contains only three extremely delicate stigmas, which can be harvested only by hand. The amount of flowers needed to be collected and the intense labor put into harvesting it has made Saffron the most expensive spice in the world.
Much of the Saffron cultivation areas are found in Iran. The largest concentration of Saffron farms are found in the region of Torbat Heydarieh and Ghayen located in the Khorasan province. About 90% of the entire saffron production in the country is harvested here. The process of growing, harvesting and drying saffron is a guarded secret by the farmers in this area. This practice that has helped maintain the quality of the Saffron exported from here, making it one of Iran’s main agricultural products.