THE MOST EXPENSIVE SPICE IN THE WORLD From $500 to $5,000 per lb Saffron Crocus Sativus Thrives where hot and dry summer breezes sweep semi-arid lands. Survive cold winters, as low as −10 °C and short periods of snow cover. Grow best in full sunlight. The Plains of La Mancha Generous spring rains and drier summers are optimal. Rain immediately preceding flowering boosts saffron yields Rainy or cold weather during flowering promotes disease and reduces yields. • Dormant through summer • Buds early autumn. Mid-autumn flowering. Harvests are by necessity a speedy affair: after blossoming at dawn, flowers quickly wilt as the day passes. Plants bloom within a window of 1 or 2 weeks. Labour intensive and back breaking work 40 hours labour to pick 150,000 flowers. 50,000–75,000 flowers = 1 lb dry saffron the equivalent of a football pitch Saffron contains more than 150 volatile and aroma-yielding compounds Documentation over 4,000 years used to treat some 90 illnesses Remedies, Magical Potions, Dyes, Perfumes, Body washes, Potpourris, Mascaras, Ointments, Woven in Textiles, Divine offerings, and Medical treatments. HEALTH PROPERTIES • Cancer-Suppressing • Mutation-Preventing • Stimulates The Immune System • Antioxidant-Like Properties. • Helpful For Depression. • Protect Eyes From Bright Light & Retinal Stress • Slows Down Macular Degeneration • For Wounds, Cough, Colic, And Scabies From 14th century, Spain exported the BEST quality saffron in the world. In the past, cultivated over a remarkably large surface area. 1970,s = world´s largest producer 6000 hectares. Total acreage under cultivation has since decreased to less than 100 hectares. In spite of the rapid decline, a few hundred Spanish farmers passionately sustain this labour intensive cottage industry. HISTORY Cleopatra used saffron in her baths so that lovemaking would be more pleasurable. Alexander the Great used Persian saffron in his infusions, rice, and baths as a curative for battle wounds Buddhist monks wear saffron-coloured robes; however, the robes are not dyed with costly saffron but turmeric European cultivation plummeted after Roman Empire Spread of Islam reintroduced the crop to Spain and Italy. The 14th C Black Death caused demand to peak. Large quantities imported on Venetian & Genoan ships from southern Med 13th C trade: subject to mass piracy. Mediterranean Pirates would ignore gold & Jewellery and instead steal saffron bound for Europe. The 14 week "Saffron War" 800 lb saffron hijacked by nobles. (today valued more than $500,000) Fear of rampant saffron piracy spurred other countries to cultivate. Basle became RICH. Spread through England. Especially Norfolk and Suffolk. In Essex Saffron Walden, emerged as England's prime saffron growing and trading centre. SPAIN SAFFRON TODAY International Organization for Standardization Graded By Laboratory Measured For • Crocin (Colour), • Picrocrocin (Taste), • Safranal (Fragrance) Grades: IV (Poorest), III, II, And I Finest Quality no more than 0.5 Per Cent Of “Floral Waste”. 2009 Saffron Production 1. Iran: 300 tons (97% of world production) 2. Kashmir: 6 tons 3. Greece: 5 tons 4. Azerbaijan: 3.70 tons 5. Spain: 1 ton 6. Morocco: 0.8 ton. 7. Italy: 100 kg 8. Turkey: 10 kg 9. France: 4kg 10.Switzerland : 1 kg Kashmiri Saffron Rarely available outside India. COUNTERFEIT SAFFRON Typical methods mixing with: • Beets, • Pomegranate fibres, • Red-dyed silk fibres, • Saffron crocus's tasteless yellow stamens. Also dousing fibres with honey or vegetable oil. Powdered saffron is more prone to adulteration….. Turmeric, Paprika, etc As well as fraudulent mislabelling. 2010 - 190,000 kilos of saffron exports netted £40 million. Local production = 1,500 kilos. Remainder poor-quality imports from Iran, Morocco and Greece. Spain….Major importer countries of Iran’s saffron. Barely one per cent of saffron labelled as Spanish is actually grown in the country.