Kashmiri Saffron is the most bought Saffron around the world. Many legends and myths surround the beauty and flavor of Saffron of Kashmir. According to one source, Saffron first arrived in Kashmir sometime around the eighth century.
Another legend suggests that the wandering of Sufi saints brought Saffron in Kashmir in the 12th century.
However, some claim that the Kashmiri's have been using Saffron from ancient times, as evidenced in many ancient Hindu scriptures.
Kashmiri Saffron Kesar = Quality Saffron Kesar
Saffron is commonly found in three varieties: Kashmiri Saffron, Persian Saffron, and Spanish Saffron. Of all these, The most renowned one of these is the pure Kashmiri Saffron.
The highest quality Saffron is cultured in the plateaus of Jammu & Kashmir, where the climate eventually favors the taste, flavor, and texture of the Saffron. The threads are deep red color or dark red.
Pampore, referred to as Padampur in ancient times. A saffron village in Kashmir valley. Historical town situated on the eastern bank of river Jhelum, on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway NH 44, is known for the Kashmir Saffron field, which is the utmost quality known as Saffron village of India or Saffron town of Kashmir.
Saffron Crocus flower blooms in just one day and should be picked on the same day for the Saffron to be best produced. Flowers are so delicate that they have to be plucked by hand.
The cost of authentic Saffron is so high that many production sites have stopped growing Saffron. However, the prices haven’t dropped even a bit.
Kashmir is the only place in India where Saffron can grow because of its sub-tropical climate conditions.
The authentic Saffron comprises only stigma threads with a red color and is not extracted from the seeds, bark, leaves, or fruit.
Producing half kg of dry Saffron requires the harvesting of 50,000 flowers, which roughly requires a space as large as a local football field. And these flowers are among the most beautiful flowers you have ever seen.
When its season starts, saffron flowers cover a large area with the purple crust. It’s one of the most surreal sights you’ll ever witness!
Apart from its medicinal properties, Saffron is also used as a dye, a spice, and a fragrance. One saffron stem weighs around 2 milligrams.
On average, three stigmas are present in each flower, so about 150,000 flowers are plucked by hand to produce one kilogram of the spice.
Regional Saffron = Saffron Original!
The largest saffron plantation lies in Pampore in Kashmir. It lies near the banks of the Jhelum river. It is an old town which produces the highest quality, Saffron. Pampore has emerged as a Saffron market.
In the middle to late October, a large part of Kashmir with floral design by beautiful purple flowers. Thousands of villagers indulge in the flower-picking process. There was a time when almost everyone in Kashmir worked in Saffron fields.
With the opening of new opportunities, this scenario has changed. However, Pampore’s economy still depends solely on Saffron production.
Statistics suggest that only three regions of Kashmir, Pulwama, Budgam, and Srinagar, produce an amount as large as 17 metric tonnes of Saffron.
Iran is the biggest cultivator of ‘Kesar’ worldwide, planting more than 300 tons annually on 30000 hectares. Second in the supply chain is Kashmir, where one-eighth of the state - 3,715 hectares, s under Saffron cultivation.
Pampore, a township in the Pulwama district, is one of the largest saffron-producing regions, With more than 32,000 farmers registered as saffron growers. With Saffron plantations spanning over 3,715 hectares, Budgam has 300 hectares of Saffron-producing land. Srinagar has a Saafron producing land spanning over 165 hectares, and 50 hectares of land is used to make Saffron in Kishtwar.
Kashmir’s Saffron is a bit expensive than others because of its properties like higher strength of antioxidants like crocetin, safranal, serotonin, and kaempferol imported varieties.
Over the past 24 years, saffron-farmed lands in Kashmir have dropped by 65%. In 2007 the cost of Saffron from Kashmir dipped by 48% when India imported Saffron from Iran.
This import was such a tremendous shock that a town, Kanibal, stopped Saffron production and used the land for residential and commercial purposes instead. A single gram of Saffron, which used to cost Rs. 250 in 2007 now costs Rs. 120 in 2020.
GI Tag certified Kashmiri Saffron
Kashmiri Saffron gets the GI tag certification with efforts of lieutenant governor, Girish Chander Murmu who took his personal interest in his busy schedule to ensure that Kashmiri saffron or Kashmiri Kesar gets GI tag certification on global footprint. This was done with initiative by National Mission on Saffron (NMS).
GI tag certification will stop the prevalent adulteration of brand Kashmiri Saffron.
Kashmiri Saffron, Mongra Saffron, and Lacha Saffron
Mongra and Lacha are two famous saffron varieties from Kashmir. They are very rare as they are only grown and cherished in Kashmir.
Mongra Saffron contains broken blossom stalks. The stalks have a red color and are considered as the world’s best stalks for producing Saffron. It is famous for its size, flavor, and aroma and holds a beautiful spot in Indian kitchens in the two types: powder and oil.
The Mongra saffron is, without a doubt, the best Indian Saffron and one of the most bought things on the planet. The beautiful red hue, enticing aroma, and incredible flavor of Mongra Saffron make it the most renowned Saffron.
Lacha saffron contains long red strands with a yellowish hint. It is commonly used to dye food and flavor it in multiple delicious dishes.
Kashmiri Saffron is renowned for a few reasons:
- Colour. Kashmiri Saffron has the most extravagant shade of Saffron in the entire world, so it is unique and gorgeous.
- Fragrance. It also has an exquisite aroma, which is why the Kashmiri saffron is so costly and rare.
- Climate. Kashmir has ideal climate conditions for the development of Saffron. The stalks produced in Kashmir are enormous as compared to different places in the world.
Why is Saffron expensive?
Saffron is most expensive spice globally because of the immense manual labor and dedication to the production process. When the flower blooms in October, it has to pluck carefully, and the precious stalks need to be sorted out.
Then the stalks are separately dried until they shrink like a thin thread. A single saffron thread weighs approximately 2 milligrams, and usually, a saffron flower has three stalks.
Pro tip: To know whether the Saffron Threads you’ve purchased is of the highest quality is smelling it. Saffron has a sweet aroma yet a bitter taste.
Another pro tip: Never forget to store your Saffron in an air-tight container. It helps keep you Saffron fresh and increases its shelf life.