Saffron–should we grow the most expensive spice using CEA

26-06-2022    11:34   |    Urban Ag News

Some people suggest saffron is a spice made of red gold. We ask three important questions: what makes it so special, why is it so expensive and should we try to adapt it for growing in CEA?

Zafferano Siciliano Crocus produces large saffron stigmas.

Saffron (Crocus sativus L., a member of the Iridaceae family) is prized for its unique yellow color in culinary dishes and loved by chefs for its flavor in many of our foods. The high cost comes from the fact that it needs to be grown in a particular climate and the long red stigma must be laboriously collected by hand.

In the US, saffron is traded for up to $10,000 per kilo but this is highly dependent on the final graded product (graded 1- 4, 4 is the best quality and has a high safranal content with the red stigma separated from the yellow anther). The problem is, it takes around 150,000 flowers to produce 1kg of dried saffron. So we want to know, is it really worth it for CEA farmers? Let’s take a closer look at saffron’s history and the pros and cons of growing the most expensive spice in the world.

A long illustrious history of production

Ancient artworks revealed saffron was domesticated around 300 to 1600 BC and was thought to have been originally harvested as a mutant of Crocus cartrightianus which was abundant around the time in the Mediterranean.

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Photo created by Benjamin Bohlouli - www.unsplash.com


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