Saffron is the most precious and expensive spice in the world. This purple colored flower has a fascinating fragrance, pleasant flavor and a beautiful color.
1. Kashmir is one of the three prominent cultivating places of saffron all over the world besides Iran and Spain.
2. Pampore, which is situated at a distance of 15 kilometers from Srinagar, is famous all over the world for its high grade saffron. Saffron is also grown, though in a limited scale, in Kishtwar of Jammu.
3. Saffron has been grown in Kashmir since the Mughal period, which began in the 16th century when saffron bulbs — a species of crocus — were brought from Iran.
4. Saffron has several names-Zafran, Kesar, Kong, Kong Posh etc.
5. Saffron is the dried, redish, flattened stigma of cultivated saffron plant.
6. Saffron is the world’s costliest spice and is called the red gold.
7. Almost 130-160 flowes constitute 1 gm of saffron.
8. Saffron is a perennial crop, lasting for about 10 to 15 years after sowing.
9.It is an annual crop. All the work is done manually from sowing to harvesting.
10. The farmer avoids the fields in the vicinity of large trees as they reduce the moisture content in the soil. Moreover, the plot should not be close to any water-body as water may damage the seeds of the crop.
11. In Jammu and Kashmir, saffron is normally sown in August and till the 15th of September.
12. Harvesting of saffron commences in the last week of October and continues for 4-6 weeks.
13. During harvesting or plucking of flowers, the atmosphere must not be hot. So, this process is completed early in the morning after the disappearance of dew.
14. After plucking the flowers from the field, family members sit together to separate the stigma (saffron) from the flower by hand.
15. When the stigma is separated, it is then left to dry in a room and not directly under the sun which fades its color.
16. Saffron flowers are collected in specially designed baskets of bamboo and willow.
17. It is water-soluble and when added to the dish, gives a pure and homogeneous color.
18. Its primary usage is as a flavoring agent. In Kashmir, it is used in kehwa- a special kashmiri tea, wazwaan and other dishes as well. It has lot of medicinal properties.
It can be truly said of kesar, that it is gold in edible form.
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