A few words about saffron plant…

Designation

The spice saffron, as it is called internationally, is the red stigmas of the flower of the plant with the scientific name Crocus sativus L.

The word “crocus” has Greek origin and means the filament (weft) used for weaving on the loom

The international name saffron probably originates from the Arabic word “zafaran” and the scientific name of the saffron is due to Linneaus who in 1762 called it Crocus sativus var. officinalis, a Crocus of the Iridaceae family not found in wildlife but only in systemic crops.

The plant

It is a plant cultivated in different parts of the world but especially in the countries around the Mediterranean basin.

The saffron is an endless perennial, herbaceous, sterile, triploid plant.

It is multiplied only by bulbs.

It is probably derived from the wild species Crocus cartwrightianus (Mathew 1982, Grilli et al., 2004) which grows in the Aegean islands.

The plant reaches a height of 25-30 cm and consists of the underground bulb, the stems, the leaves (5-10) and the flowers (1-3).

The flower consists of six deep blue-purple, purple or white-purple petals, 3 yellow stamens and a style that ends in 3 red stigmas.

Flower stigmas are the most precious part of the plant; they are separated and removed from it, and after processing they produce the famous condiment-spice saffron.

Processing

The plant is in bloom after mid-October and its blooming lasts for 20 to 30 days. During this time, the flowers are harvested.

The processing of saffron is simple but with some particularities. Our company keeps the following strict processing protocol:

  • Collection of flowers on a daily basis. Each field is scanned manually by a multitude of workers, daily, from the beginning to the end of blooming. The flowers are collected in a special way so that they can be prepared for further processing.
  • Separation. The same day, immediately after the harvest, comes the manual separation of the red stigmas from the rest of the flower and the stamens. This is an important part of the process and the way of cutting the stigmas plays a role in the final quality of the product.
  • Drying. Immediately after separation, comes the drying of the collected flower stigmas in special dryers (The red stigmas are dried alone, since they have already been released from all other parts of the flower (stamens, pollen, petals, etc.). When the red stigmas dry together with the stamens, the quality of the product is reduced. Drying may play the most important role in the quality of Greek saffron Serres, because in this phase, chemical reactions produce crocine and safranal).
  • Storage. Immediately afterwards, the dried specks (now known as the saffron) are stored in special containers placed in a dark place and cool temperature.
  • Packaging. The saffron is packed whenever the product is for sale.

In the company “KROKOS SERRON IKE – SIRIS”, at all stages of processing of saffron, all the work, from the moment of the flower is collected to the packing of the stigmas for sale, is done manually and under conditions of absolute cleanliness and hygiene. These rigorous processes ensure the superior quality of Greek saffron Serres.

The quality of Greek saffron Serres according to ISO 3632-1 and -2: 2011 (E) is in upper class I.

Figure 1: Saffron plants ready for harvesting.
Figure 2: Plants of 1st year of cultivation in the field, immediately after the collection of flowers.
Figure 3: Fresh stigma saffron of large size.
Figure 4: Collected saffron flowers at a sorting table before segregation of the stigma.
Figure 5: Separation of stigmas.

Figure 6: Fresh stigmas of saffron.