History of saffron flower
Saffron flower was known in the past as Zarparan, meaning a flower whose petal look like gold. It dates back to 3500 years ago. Saffron flower has long been the most expensive spice in the world, although some doubts remain about its origin, but it is believed that saffron flower originated in Iran, yet Greece and Mesopotamia are possible areas of origin of this plant.
There is also a wild species of this plant that has its roots in Central Asia. But about 90% of saffron production is related to Iran. The aroma and flavor of saffron flower is related to the chemicals produced in this plant, and this plant has pigments inside that transfer its golden yellow color to the dishes. The origin of this plant dates back to the seventh century BC.
Saffron plays an important role in different areas and countries. In Greece, this plant has a long history and dates back to the pre-Bronze Age. In the past, saffron flowers were picked and used as an herbal medicine. The ancient inhabitants of the Mediterranean region collected saffron around the coastal city and because of its high quality, saffron was used in the production of perfumes and medicines. It was also used to treat gastrointestinal and kidney diseases of Assyrian and Babylonian saffron.
Saffron-based pigments are found in our prehistoric paintings, which are used to depict animals in a 50,000-year-old cave in present-day Iraq. Later, the Sumerians used saffron as a substance in their medicines and magic potions. However, the Sumerians did not actively cultivate saffron flower. Instead, they decided to collect only the flowers of this plant. Because they felt that only divine intervention could activate the medicinal properties of saffron. Such a thing in fact shows evidence that saffron is the prelude to long-distance trade before reaching the culture of the Minoan palace of Crete, which peaked in the second millennium BC. Saffron was also celebrated as a sweet spice more than three thousand years ago in Tanakh worship.
Applications of saffron flower
Saffron flower was used by doctors and physicians in the treatment of gastric bleeding and urinary tract infections. Saffron was also used as a dye for royal clothes, in public places such as courts and halls, etc. Saffron was used as a perfume. In ancient Iran, especially in the city of Isfahan, for the treatment of soda, they drank saffron and tea. Also in this vast country, saffron has been found in the fabric of royal carpets and funeral shrouds.
Many studies show that saffron was popularized by the Iranian rulers in India. During the Achaemenid period, Cyrus the Great believed that saffron heals wounds. The plant was also used in Asian forests by Alexander the Great and his soldiers. Alexander himself bathed in hot water by mixing saffron. This plant was also imported to China by the Mongols and saffron is mentioned in Chinese medical books.
Also, with the arrival of saffron in Afghanistan, Afghans have started cultivating saffron instead of opium. In Europe, the source of cultivation was probably in Spain. This product was and is so valuable that pirates in the past refused to carry gold and carried saffron with them.
In France, saffron flower production was high in the 17th and 18th centuries, but over time due to cold and fungal problems, the production of this plant decreased and only a few royal families used it.
With the entry of industry into some countries, such as the United Kingdom, the production of saffron decreased and these countries turned to the production of other products such as chocolate, vanilla, etc. But in some countries, because this product has a long history, such as France and Spain, its production remained. Almost all saffron grows in a belt from Spain in the west to Kashmir in the east. Except for Antarctica, other continents produce smaller quantities. In 2014, 250 tons of this valuable plant were produced worldwide.
Saffron cultivation in Afghanistan increased dramatically in the 21st century. Azerbaijan and Morocco are reducing production, respectively. In Italy, saffron is produced primarily in southern Italy, especially in the Abruzzo region, but also grows in significant numbers in Basilicata. Sardinia, Tuscany (especially in San Gimingano) is also cultivated. High labor costs and abundant Iranian imports have somewhat limited the production of this product in these areas.
This means that only the selected location is the harvest. In Austria, Germany and Switzerland, including the Swedish village of Mund, this plant is cultivated so that its annual production reaches several kilograms. Saffron can be grown in Australia (mainly Tasmania), Canada, Central Africa, China, Egypt, parts of England, France, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Sweden (Gotland), Turkey (mostly around Safranblo), the United States ( California and Pennsylvania). Greece is a saffron producer with a history of 3 centuries of saffron cultivation named Crocus Kouzanis, which has been exporting to the United States since 2017.
Planting saffron in Iran
Today, saffron is planted in Khorasan Razavi, Neishabour, Torbat Heydariyeh, Qayen etc., and recently in other provinces.
Like Tabriz, Lorestan and Isfahan, saffron flower is planted and harvested. Also it grows better in cold climates than in the tropics. The colder the region, the higher the quality of its saffron.
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