Saffron is a spice, obtained from a flower, which is commonly known as saffron rose, and whose scientific name is Crocus Sativus. Actually, the part used is the pistils of this flower, which is harvested in the fall and from which these filaments are obtained. These are dried or roasted until obtaining this appreciated spice.

The global production area is the Mediterranean basin. See countries like Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain. The latter place, where a limited amount of saffron is produced, but of high quality and international renown.

Saffron in Spain has been brewing for centuries, as it was a heritage from the Arab peoples that inhabited the Iberian peninsula before the Christian reconquest of the 15th century. For approximately 800 years, the Muslims controlled the territories called Al-Andalus (currently Spain) and planted this flower throughout the territories of Andalusia, Castilla and La Mancha.
Currently its production is lower, but it is still a product considered its own and with strong roots in the Spanish tradition.

Saffron has several applications depending on the culture of the country that consumes it. Mainly its use is gastronomic in the west or medicinal in the east.

At an organoleptic level, its components are:
Crocin: coloring power, expressed as a direct reading of the absorbance of crocin at about 440 nm,
on a dry basis. Tolerance: -5 points.
Safranal: Aroma, expressed as a direct reading of the absorbance at 330 nm use, on a dry basis. Tolerance: -3 points.
Picrocrocin: Bitterness (in this case, flavor), expressed as a direct reading of the absorbance of picrocrocin at about 257 nm, on a dry basis. Tolerance: -4 points.
Humidity: Humidity and volatile matter,% (m / m). Tolerance: +4 points
Total ash:% (m / m) on a dry basis. Tolerance: +1.5 points.
Acid insoluble ashes:% (m / m), on a dry basis. Tolerance: +0.35 points

In its gastronomic use, its peculiar aroma (soluble in fats, slightly soluble in water), bitter taste (soluble in water, slightly soluble in fats) and intense yellow color stand out, which season stews, fish, rice and pasta. Mediterranean tradition dishes that have been preserved through the ages, and that are still alive.

Spanish saffron, mainly obtained in the La Mancha district, meets high quality as a result of care in all stages of production. This quality is achieved by following strict parameters, including:

Cultivated for only four years on the same land and new plantation on virgin land, which must not have hosted other plantations for at least the last three years. The ideal terrain must be formed by a soil that is not too compact, permeable, and with a neutral PH.

The harvest of the saffron roses is done manually, between October and November, before sunrise and only the flowers that appear the night before. The delicate cutting process, and transport to the process center, guarantees the preservation of all its properties. All the stages of harvesting, extraction of the pistils and roasting must be carried out in a short time, by expert personnel, and manually, at most in 12-24 hours, to guarantee high quality.

The drying process can be at room temperature, but the filaments will not get a bright red color. Roasting by means of a heat source is advisable, at an average temperature of 70-90 degrees, for approximately 30-40 minutes. To obtain 1 Kilogram of saffron you need 250,000 flowers.

The roasting phase is very important, and is the key to making the Crocus Sativus pistils the best possible saffron. Starting from excellent raw material, there are different methods for drying. The most appreciated is on embers or vine embers, also called branches, which achieves a higher temperature, but shortens the drying time. Another similar roasting system is by flame or gas cooker, in this case the maximum temperature reached is very similar, around 85 degrees Celsius, punctually more, which reduces the time to an average of 30 minutes. Finally, there is the drying of the freshly harvested pistils on electrical resistances. In the latter case, the times are longer, around one hour, but with lower temperatures of around 60 degrees on average.

The choice of each drying method is linked to the reality of each producer, based on their preferences and the characteristics of each batch. A saffron dried at room temperature is shown in dark colors, while one dried using a neutral heat source produces saffron in lighter, more vibrant and vibrant colors. The finished product presents an intense and penetrating aroma, of dry grass with floral notes. As for the taste, it turns out to be initially bitter, and later to roasted cereals, long and persistent.

Currently the production of Spanish saffron is aimed at achieving quality before quantity. Harvests are not intensive, of contained quantities and that provide quality pistils. Recall that currently in Spain less than 2000 Kilograms of quality saffron are produced per year.

To classify saffron by quality, there are regulations in Spain that are temporarily updated.

In 2012, the UNE 3632-1 standard was completed by the UNE 3632-2 standard, which contemplates the different qualities of Spanish saffron based on its characteristics.
The most common qualities are, from least to most, Sierra, Standard, Rio, Selecto and Coupé. Above, we have qualities I, detailed in regulation 3632-2, and quality Saffron from La Mancha. These last two are superior in general terms, as they have greater coloring power, greater aroma and flavor.

Trufas Rius selects excellent raw material, which is part of our commercial proposal. Saffron that comes from the best of each campaign. Cultivated and processed in La Mancha area, in the heart of Spain, and with very high values ​​of Crocina (coloring power)> 200, Safranal (aroma)> 20, and Picrocrocina (flavor or bitterness)> 70, own values of an outstanding saffron.