Saffron Glossary 

Saffron Glossary

American Saffron

American saffron has many health benefits and is made from saffron flowers called safflower. American saffron is used as an alternative to the expensive Spanish saffron called Crocus Sativus but it does not taste the same as the aroma and flavour are missing in American Saffron. However, they possess similar properties and can be used interchangeably.

Colouring Strength

The colouring of saffron is categorized by ISO in three (formerly four) categories where category I means the highest quality or maximum colouring strength and category III means the lowest quality or minimum colouring strength. The colour content with the maximum strength is usually known as colouring strength that tells the greater intensity and colour concentration of saffron. 

Maximum Coloring Strength

Maximum colouring strength is the maximum colour one can get from the saffron threads. The colouring strength or maximum colouring strength is the colour that grades up to 200 and greater than 200 and lies in Category I among the three categories i.e. Category I – III.

Minimum Coloring Strength

Minimum colouring strength is the minimum colour one can get from the saffron threads. The minimum colouring strength is the colour that grades equal to or lower than 80 and lies in Category III among the four categories i.e. Category I – III.

Crocus sativus

Crocus sativus also called saffron crocus or autumn crocus is used for making saffron, the world’s most expensive spice from the filaments of the crocus flowers. The stigmas of Crocus Sativus are the saffron threads that we used in our recipes in the same form or powdered or liquid form.  

Crop Year

A crop year is a time required to complete the stages of harvesting the crops from one year to the next. This crop year is not the same for all the products. So, the best time for harvesting the saffron product is in autumn, by the middle of October, when the saffron flowers begin to bloom then you remove the long bright orange saffron stigmas of saffron threads from the crocus flowers. Make sure to be very careful while doing it as each flower produces only three stigmas. 


The process of steeping is used to extract the flavour and colour and to soften any spice or other products. The steeping process is done by soaking the solid of any kind, let’s say grains, into hot water for a while, and then use that water or the soft solid. This process is called steeping grains, steeping specialty grains or in other cases simply, steeping. 

Floral Waste

Floral waste should be a major concern as it is destroying millions of tons of useful nutrients, colours, and other parts that can be used in different industries like food, cosmetics, perfumes, textile, and more. Flower waste is very huge for example we can get 12g of dried saffron spice from 1kg of saffron flowers and all those petals are thrown as waste.


International organization for standardization (ISO) is established for international standardization around the world for commercial, industrial, and proprietary standards. The organization has two headquarters, one in Geneva and the other is in Switzerland. 164 members are associated with this organization that is all following the international standard charts given by ISO. 

Mancha Saffron

Azafrán de la Mancha is a Spanish Saffron that comes from the dried stigmas and style of the flower Crocus Sativus that not only used as a spice or a herbal supplement but also used in many sweet dishes and drinks. Its aromatic colour adds the light-yellow colour and a floral taste in the desserts. 

Mexican Saffron

Mexican Saffron also called the American Saffron is the safflower from the daisy family used to produce safflower oil. The dried Mexican saffron picked up from the flowers is used for food colouring but has no flavour.

Saffron Category

ISO 3632 is dealing saffron exclusively and it establishes three categories for it concerning taste, colour, and intensity. These three categories include Category III (poorest quality), Category II, and Category I (finest quality). They removed the Category IV that was formerly present in the chart used for the saffron that possesses the qualities below than Category III. 

Saffron Filaments

Saffron filaments are the saffron threads that are harvested from Crocus Sativus flower and are among the most expensive spice in the world. These filaments are expensive as thousands of flowers can give few grams of saffron that possess an intense burst of aroma and flavour.

Saffron Harvest

Crocus Sativus (Saffron flowers) are harvested for the saffron spice. This flower blooms in the fall then the farmers handpicked the stigmas. Almost 40 hours of work is needed to pick the flowers nearly 150,000. 1 crocus flower has 30 mg of fresh saffron or 7 mg of dried saffron.  


Stamen is the male fertilizing organ of the flower that holds pollen. These pollens contain anther and filament. The filament is attached to the base of the flower that helps it in supporting the anther. Saffron stamen is not useful in cooking. 

Saffron Stigmas

Stigma is the female organ of the flower that is connected to the flower by style. The stigma receives pollen from the male organ to begin the fertilization process. There are three stigmas in the saffron crocus flower connected by style to the base of the flower. 

Photospectrometry Report

Photospectrometry, a method in which how much light is absorbed by a chemical substance is measured by measuring the intensity of light. This method can also be used to measure the amount of chemical substance used. The tool or optical instrument used in this method is called a Spectrophotometer.

True Saffron 

True saffron is the spice obtained from the flower Crocus sativus. It is the stigma and style of the flower, also called threads, which have rich colour, aroma, and flavour. These threads are picked and dried for seasoning and giving colour to the food. 

False Saffron

False Saffron or Carthamus tinctorius is a thistle-like highly branched flower – bright yellow or orange. It is used as commercial saffron fertilized to extract vegetable oil from its seeds and is also used as a substitute for saffron but has no flavor.