Saffron is derived from the dried, orange-red 2,5-3,5 cm long stigmas of the violet saffron crocus (Crokus Sativus). In its blossom, there are yellow stamina and three long red stigmas, the so-called saffron threats. Its light violet calyxes cover the ground of different fields. It loves locations, which are protected from the wind, sunny and poor of nutrients since the extremely sensitive Crokus Sativus only prospers on lean grounds with fine sands and little clay.
The sensible blossoms only bloom once a year for a very short period between September and October. It is considered hardy, however, should be covered up from minus 15 degrees Celsius downward. Ideal temperatures are between 9 and 15 degrees Celsius. The crocus bulbs are cultivated on huge fields and grow up to 20 and 30 cm.
Saffron is the most valuable and expensive spice in the world since the harvest is very labor-intensive. During the short two-week harvest seasons, the blossoms have to be collected each day by hand. In order to avoid strong sun rays, the blossoms are harvested in the morning of their first bloom. The three red saffron threats are being removed from the calyxes manually and subsequently dried. For 2 Kilogram of saffron, about 150.000 blossoms are needed.
Far in excess of 90 Percent (170 – 180 tons) of the saffron that is offered worldwide originate from Iran. Here the sensible plants find optimum conditions in order to develop an especially intensive flavor. Even though saffron is also being cultivated in Spain and even in some locations in Austria, the quality cannot be compared to that grown in Iran. Meanwhile, the summers in Spain are simply too hot for the spice that is used to a mild climate. The high temperatures destroy the flavor.