Introduction to Saffron
Saffron is a plant with purple flowers with six petals that grow up to 30 cm in height. This flowers have three flags and a female leading to the three-branched stigma in red: The part used by this plant is the end of the cream, and the three-branched stigma, which is known as saffron producing a fragrant colour and smell. The plant contains nutritional and medicinal properties and is extremely popular in Iran due to its limited cultivation.
Saffron is a plant that can grow in harsh biological conditions. Such a plant needs water only on the first of November, and rain and snow will be enough for it until the first of spring. Saffron is a plant that does not need too much cost in terms of transportation and is economical.
Plant cultivation is the occupation of most inhabitants in the Khorasan region and has a particular role in their lives in northeastern Iran. As we mentioned before, saffron has medicinal properties, and its most important feature is that it may improve mood. It is considered a medicine against depression and is used as a natural and herbal cure that calms the nerves. Moreover, the plant from the genus Lilies has been used to flavour and colour foods in Persia. This plant is one of the export products of Iran; due to its great value, it is called red gold also is the main source of income in the cities of Khorasan.
The Main Region of Saffron Production
Regarding the cultivation of saffron in Iran, the first place that comes to everyone’s mind is Khorasan Province, where has had a flag in the field of saffron cultivation in Iran. The cities of Khorasan Province have the best type of saffron because it has belonged to the region from the beginning. Saffron agriculture is common in different cities of Khorasan Razavi, including Zaveh, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Torbat-e Jam, Taybad, Bakharz, Gonabad, Neishabur, and Bajestan. We can mention Ghainat, Ferdows, Bashravieh, and Birjand in South Khorasan, where after Khorasan Razavi has second place in the cultivation of Persian saffron. Although Khorasan Razavi is the first region in production quantity, South Khorasan’s saffron is the best quality type. We can mention the Kerman, Lorestan, and Fars provinces after Khorasan province that have recently been activated in the field of saffron cultivation.
The history of saffron cultivation in Persia dates back to ancient times. Then, it was taken from Persia to Greece and Rome; during the Parthian period, Persian saffron was exported to Rome, later during the Mongol period, it was exported to China, and China became one of the customers of saffron in Persia. During the Islamic period, saffron was also taken to Arab countries, having contributed to the familiarity of the Mediterranean countries with its farming method.
Traders in the World
Initially, Persia was the only exporter of saffron in the world, but in recent years other countries have also entered the saffron trade. In the new era, Spain is considered a competitor for Iran and is one of the exporters of saffron. The UAE has also become one of the saffron exporters without cultivating it. In addition, many countries such as Afghanistan and India have been active in such a trade. Out of about 230 tons of saffron produced worldwide every year, about 170 tons belong to Khorasan. Among all the cities engaged in saffron farming in Khorasan Razavi province and South Khorasan province, Ghayenat town, the centre of Ghayen city in terms of fame, has overtaken other regions and is known as the saffron capital of Iran. According to the South Khorasan Province Chamber of Commerce, saffron cultivation’s history in Qaen goes back about 700 years ago. At present, Ghayen saffron is the first in the world in terms of quality and a globally well-known brand.
Qaen (Ghayen) Saffron
Saffron cultivation in Qaen and other cities of South Khorasan Province is known as the main source of income for the residents; they have been working in this field for many years, earning money this way. Through saffron export, Iran has become the first exporter of saffron in the world. Furthermore, saffron is one of the particular items in importing currency for the country. We suggest you travel to South Khorasan province and visit Qaen, the red gold capital of Iran, and the farms of such a valuable plant. Do not forget to take Ghayen saffron as a souvenir for loved ones, and be sure to set aside your share to revive your trip memories by cooking delicious Persian cuisine with the red gold.