It is an agricultural artform that requires passion, patience, experience and know-how. Far from the steel of industrial manufacturing, its cultivation favours the gentle touch of man.
Its purple flower is ephemeral–blooming once a year and lasting a transient 48 hours. It offers, at its heart, the famous bright red threads, which bear saffron after being dried out.
Its harvest is delicate and processed by hand, after the morning dew but before sunrise. Once separated from the flower, the thread is dried in the shade from where it loses 80 % of its water.
Nearly 200,000 flowers are harvested and dried to obtain 1 kilo of dry saffron, requiring about 400 hours of intense labour. These factors explain why saffron is often more expensive than truffles and caviar.
The spice is too often defrauded, with consumers deceived in the absence of guarantees as to the quality of saffron being purchased.
The most common scams involve mixing the spice with paprika, turmeric or even threads mixed with detergents–extremely hazardous to one’s health.