For me, two things are notable about this article. First is the depth of detail that the author goes into. I’ve read many articles on farming, but none that actually go into the day-to-day work of farming to such an extent. This is important because by explaining what happens in each stage, it demystifies the whole process and shows that it’s a lot less complicated than you might have thought.
My second observation is about how it uses plain language to explain a very complex process. I have a degree in English literature, so I know how difficult it can be to write clearly about something very technical. The author does this extremely well, though, and for that I give her credit.
This article is one of my favourites because it combines both a vivid description with an explanation of the context into which this particular practice fits.
This article would appeal to me because I’m interested in agriculture as well as Indian culture, so learning more about how Indian farmers farm would be fascinating to me. This article also appeals to me because I enjoy reading articles with technical descriptions of processes; they’re not just interesting, they’re often very beautiful too (in their own way). This article meets these criteria to a T, and so I’d say it
The stigmas are processed in different ways. The petals are dried and used in cooking, usually as a colouring, sometimes as a flavouring. The stigmas are dried and made into threads or powder. These threads are the world’s most expensive spice.
It takes 500 hand-picked flowers to make one gram of saffron: each flower produces three red stigmas. Saffron is grown in many countries, but the best saffron comes from Kashmir.
The flowers have been grown in Kashmir for centuries. They were probably first grown for use in cooking; it is unlikely that they were cultivated for the production of saffron from the beginning.
The local name for the plant is kesar ; this word gives us our word “saffron” (which comes from the Arabic az-zafaran ).
Kashmiri farmers have been growing saffron since at least 900BC, and maybe even earlier: there are reports of its growing wild in Greece and Asia Minor by that date, and possibly also in China.
Saffron is a rare and expensive spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus. This flower thrives in the fall, when it is hand-picked, then dried for use all year round. In the Indian state of Kashmir, saffron is a crucial part of the economy, which accounts for over 90% of the world’s saffron production.
The saffron crocus flowers are purple in color and have three stigmas (the female part) that are picked by hand. The stigmas are dried and they turn a deep red-orange color. They can be stored for up to six years before they lose their flavor. Saffron threads are extremely high in cost; one gram can cost anywhere from $50 to $500, depending on quality and the time of year it is purchased.
Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world, but this aromatic and medicinal plant is native to India. The saffron flower grows in the wild throughout Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and nearby areas. The saffron crocus thrives in hilly terrains of above 2200 metres in elevation during warm weather.
Saffron is a perennial herb with purple or red flowers. It needs hot weather to grow and thrive. The crocus sativus plant blooms in mid-October and its flowers are harvested within 48 hours of opening. It takes about 150,000 flowers to produce just one pound of saffron strands. The stigmas (the female part) are collected, dried in the sun and then packaged for export and retail sale.
T he saffron flowers are dried in the sun and then graded according to size. Saffron is expensive because of the amount of labor required to produce it. In fact, an acre of crocus sativus can yield up to 14 pounds of saffron, which means picking can take over 20 hours per pound. The harvest season lasts a mere 20 days, so farmers often harvest by hand as soon as they spot the first flower buds. After it’s picked, each delicate bloom must be carefully cleaned and sorted. Poorly sorted saffron is less valuable than high-quality saffron, which can sell for more than $10 per gram.*
The Saffron flower is the most expensive spice in the world. It is a little flower that can grow in any climate and that blooms only for three weeks out of the year. It is harvested by hand and dried and packaged.
What makes this flower so valuable? It is not just the taste or aroma of saffron, which cannot be scientifically measured. Saffron has medicinal properties. A few threads of saffron can be used to cure headaches, depressions, heart problems, flatulence, nausea, and melancholy. It was used to heal wounds and toothaches.
It has been found that the threads are effective in the treatment of leukemia and cancer. Saffron also helps those with epilepsy and menstrual problems and it improves eyesight. It is not surprising that saffron was so highly prized by ancient people.*
Research carried out by the CSIR-Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR) has revealed that the characteristic aroma and flavour of saffron are derived from a compound called picrocrocin, which is produced by the plant during the process of photosynthesis.
The researchers have also found that saffron contains another compound called safranal, which is responsible for its hot and spicy flavour.
As per the findings of this research, published in Plant Physiology Journal, saffron’s picrocrocin content varied between 17 per cent to 36 per cent while safranal concentration was found to be 2.5 per cent.