Types of Persian Saffron
Persian saffron known also as Iranian saffron has 3 major classifications; Sargol, Negin, and Pushal plus parts with less quality including Khooshe (Bunch) and Konj. The quality of saffron threads depends on the positions at which they are pinched off. Each length of saffron stigma has its own name, characteristics and uses.
Generally speaking, Sargol is the red tips of the Persian saffron stigmas and the strongest grade. Then, we have Negin and sometimes Super Negin which is the red stigmas with no style. Third, Pushal is the red stigma plus some yellow style which has a lesser color and aroma strength. Fourth, Bunch/Khooshe is the whole length of the Persian saffron stigmas including the full length of style which is collected like a small bundle. At last, it is time for Konj which is just the yellow style with minimum aroma and next-to-zero color strength.
First category, Sargol saffron is the very tip of the Persian saffron stigmas which literary means ” the top of flower”. The deep red color and short length of detached stigmas with no orangish or yellow part are the true signs of Sargol. Picking the Sargol needs much more time and attention because of the delicate nature of the stigmas and also going for only the tips. Professional picking, drying and packaging leaves nowhere to complain about the coloring strength, strong taste and wonderful aroma.
With the I.S.O. reading of 260-270, Sargol is the highest-quality saffron among the Persian saffron grades. Sargol coloring concentration and aroma is super strong and distinguishable because of its active components which gives it a 3-times stronger color concentration.
Super Negin Saffron
ُSecondly, Super Negin – a kind of Sargol saffron – is the most expensive and rare trim of Persian saffron stigma because it is not only the most potent but also it has aesthetically agreeable features. Super Negin threads have longer length with no yellow/orangish parts. This is why their threads are symmetrically separated and have no crumbs. Super Negin and Sargol are both desired for their pure crimson red and amazing aroma that they have. Still, Sargol is mostly desired type of Persian saffron because it is the tip of the stigmas with the most concentration of color. Secondly, Super Negin has longer threads which are cut right before the orangish style start. The I.S.O. standard 3632-2 reading of Super Negin saffron is 260-270.
Negin saffron, literally meaning “the diamond on a ring” in Persian, has the full length of the three red stigma which are all attached together with a little bit of orange style. Totally, Negin is 1.5 cm long and doesn’t contain any pollen or long style so it’s one of the highest-quality Persian saffron types with great coloring power. To put it simply, Negin saffron has the same quality and color concentration but you are paying for some yellow parts too which worth less.
Sargol is considered as the premium Persian saffron yet, Negin saffron is desired mostly for its fragrance and luxury appearance. Negin saffron is merchandised dried and kept under 8.2% moisture since it’s very sensitive to damp. The dried stigmas of Negin saffron are red, elongated, oval, and stick and the most expensive type of Persian saffron. Similar to Sargol, Negin also needs an extremely careful and delicate picking skill. That’s why Negin is the most expensive type of saffron and very limited to offer.
Third, Pushal is another type of Persian saffron and contains the whole length of the red stigmas attached to a 1-3 mm style end. Commonly, Pushal is the cheapest type of Persian saffron available in the market for whom aren’t really concerned about the pure aroma and taste of saffron. Yet, it’s worth to mention that Pushal has a I.S.O. standard 3632-2 reading of 170- 240 so it’s not that worthless. Undoubtedly, Pushal can’t compete against Sargol on pure texture and premium quality, yet there are consumers who prefer to purchase Iranian Pushal for validity check or other uses.
Fourth grade of Persian saffron has relatively low coloring and aromatic strength grades. It is because Bunch contains all the 3 red stigmas a long with large amount of yellow style, all wrapped in shape of a tiny bundle. This shape of presenting saffron makes the red pure parts of saffron stigmas to share their taste, color and aroma with the less-quality parts of saffron. It’s quite understandable that’s what makes the I.S.O. reading to fall far below.
At last, Konj saffron is the lowest-quality grade which consists of just the yellowish and white styles. These are the parts which have very little aroma and less than 80 coloring power, yet they have their own market.
To wrap the Persian saffron types, we should tell you that saffron powder doesn’t fall into any of the categories above. Actually, Saffron powder is a mixture of grinded Sargol, Pushal and Bunch parts which is presented in economic markets. Obviously, the coloring capacity, aroma strength and flavor power are less than any pure types of Persian saffron such as Sargol. Still, bear in mind that all the processes of drying, grinding, weighing and packaging use superior technology to avoid loss of quality capacity. Be careful that powdered saffron leaves the door open for mixing less quality saffron, artificial dye and turmeric.
The useful point of knowing the I.S.O. standard 3632 is that you’ll know exactly what you are buying and how much quality it has. There’s no need to emphasize that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and that’s what makes a great target to fraud. In short, Persian Saffron has always been high quality as long as you find the right distributor(s) who can provide you with authentic test reports upon your order. Iran will continue to hold the crown of High-Quality Saffron for it’s the genuine home of Red Gold with the right features such as climate, soil and non-chemical cultivation and harvesting processes.