How to Tell High-Quality Saffron?

High quality saffron

High-Quality Saffron

When we talk about “telling the high-quality saffron”, know that telling a “low-quality saffron” matters even more. It’s not just about looking at the red stigmas but also the orangish and white strands which are attached to the red part. If you see some mushy parts mixed with the red stigmas, know that it is the unwanted moisture which is just added to increase the weight. Attached to the end of the red part, there is a pale orange or yellow part called the style which doesn’t have any flavor or aroma. So, if the saffron that you bought has excessive yellow parts and/or moisture then it’s not a high-quality saffron. Actual high-quality saffron has a deep red color and feels dry to touch. It’s worth to know that the stigmas of top grade saffron are almost 1.2 to 3.8 inches long.

saffron coloring strength

The Standards of Grading Saffron 

There is an international entity which defines the standards for products that are being traded in the world. It is the International Standard Organization (I.S.O.) which grading saffron is one of its several responsibilities. They apply a measurement procedure in special laboratories regarding color, flavor and aroma in which the lab staff gauge the color content of the saffron samples. Saffron grades are assigned according to the standards which are set for color content. A higher color strength or concentration proves a greater color intensity and therefor high-quality saffron.

Telling the quality of saffron would be easy if you just check the authentic lab analysis test on the product. There are 3 features which you need to consider, safranal (aroma strength), crocin (coloring strength), and picrocrocin (flavor strength).


Category I Average Iran National Average







Picrocrocin >70



saffron grading

Saffron Grades

High-quality saffron has a strong color concentration, so it is a milestone for the I.S.O. to grade saffron types into 4 main classes. The highest quality saffron is category I (Negin) with the most color concentration, category II (Sargol), category III (Pushal) and category IV (Bunch) plus the least favorate category V (Konj) with the lowest color strength. Saffron pricing in the market is based on these I.S.O. grades.


Color Power

Category I

> 270

Category II

Category III


Category IV


Category V


I.S.O. is an internationally accepted and reliable standard but there are many experienced home cooks who aren’t very lab friendly. They’d rather have a sample and check the facial features, flavor, color concentration, and aroma themselves.

How to Tell High-Quality Saffron?

Saffron Crocus grows in different areas and several countries cultivate and export it. But high-quality saffron does not grow everywhere since it is closely bound to the climatic and soil conditions plus the saffron bulb itself. Saffron is originally from Iran and Iranian saffron is the highest-quality saffron in the world because it is the natural origin. So, the origin of saffron plays a critical role in the quality. Concerning this expensive spice, there have always been sellers or packagers who mix low-quality saffron with high-quality saffron in order to add extra weight but Village Saffron is definitely not one of them. You can easily tell the best quality saffron by the authentic lab test report that we provide. Now, you can also check the facial features to make sure you are paying for a premium quality saffron and get one.

Saffron coloring strength

High-Quality Saffron Coloring Strength

The first way to examine the quality of a product is by checking the facial features. In case of saffron, you can tell the pure saffron from a non-pure one by the vivid crimson red of high-quality saffron threads. Every single saffron thread needs to have a vividly natural red color. But, be careful about the powdered saffron because they may be mixed with low-quality saffron or turmeric and marigold. That is why we recommend you to ask for the authentic lab tests, also if possible, you can drop a thread in water. High-quality saffron release a yellow color and it will retain its color even if you take it out. Therefore, it is wise to buy from registered and trustworthy sellers who can satisfy your doubts and questions by providing samples and test reports.

High-Quality Saffron Flavor and Aroma

Color strength is not the only parameter you need to check since saffron is also popular for its exotic hard-to-describe flavor and aroma. High-quality saffron tastes like a subtle earthy yet sweet with an earthy and grassy aroma. It is still hard to describe what saffron really tastes and smells like but remember that excessive sweet indicates fake saffron. If you can, smell a saffron thread and put in your mouth and check if it has a taste similar to floral & honey but not excessively. Saffron flavor straddles between sweet and savory and it has a distinguishable smell with a grassy undertone.

saffron containers

High-Quality Saffron Packaging

Saffron packaging is a step that also can define the quality of saffron because it needs to be trusted regarding the quality of saffron packed and the container material. Let’s not forget about the convenience and beauty of the package. High-quality saffron needs to be preserved in a rather small and absolutely airtight and lightproof container. Make sure to check for the saffron grade certification by an authentic laboratory. If you are buying in bulk, always ask for test report and airtight packaging. Some sellers may try to mix marigold or artificial food color with high-quality saffron. Always ask for the sample and check the facial features plus the test certificate.

High-Quality Saffron Texture

High-quality saffron has a special texture, it is fully dried and leaves a yellow color and distinct aroma on your hand. If you felt a little damp in the saffron threads, it might be because of inadequate and improper drying process. Sometimes a little bit of moisture is left to add extra weight to the package. So, be careful about that.

saffron texture


In conclusion, the information mentioned above is a general review of what’s important in buying high-quality saffron. Still, there are 4 to 6 types of saffron in the market for different purposes. Each of these types has its own facial features and quality, for this reason we recommend you to first know the different types of saffron and their uses and then proceed with the buying process. In addition to this article, you can study the related articles on saffron types. Finally, feel free to contact our sales department  so that we can help you through the buying process.

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