Kashmiri saffron is disappearing

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/02/14/700686.html

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ELI5 why this can’t be grown anywhere else that has similar ecology or even in a greenhouse where the ecology can be simulated?

oh, and let me add, “please”. :slight_smile:

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Hopefully a food grade red or it might Croakus. Gardening pun!

It can grow in the US but the cost to market would be astronomical. Still, maybe for the hobby garden?

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Glad I have a fairly large stockpile in my spice cabinet.

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This has been known for some time that saffron is endangered. How difficult is it to grow in other parts of the world that have similar climates? Also might be possible to grow new varieties that take well different growing conditions as a precaution, taste might be different but would be better than having it entirely disappear.

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I’m pretty new to cooking with saffron, I bought some from Costco not long ago, it was a considerable amount for like $10, but I don’t think it’s the same thing as this. I think it’s from Spain. I wonder if there’s any substantial difference between the two?

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Spanish saffron is quite good, but doesn’t command as high a price. I imagine it’s a soil (terroir) property that leads to better or stronger flavor?
Just don’t buy the 1-oz $2.99 cellophane bag in the supermarket from the Mexican spice manufacturers labeled “azafrán” and expect it to actually be saffron.

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$1550 a pound sounds expensive, but did you ever try to actually eat a pound of saffron? Even a quarter pound is more than I can eat.

@joelfinkle But achiote is yummy too!

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It can be grown many places. England used to be a leader in saffron production. I even have a couple raised beds of it. But climate and soil make a difference, and Kashmir is almost perfect.

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“Mexican saffron” is safflower, not the same thing at all.
And if you buy powdered saffron you can be sure there’s no saffron in it.

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Obviously, the Mexican Spice Manufacturers vary, and I can’t talk to what you are getting…

Around here, the big bags are properly labeled “Safflower”. It’s a slightly different plant… but it tastes a lot like saffron and still gives you that lovely gold color. You have to use 10x as much, but it’s 100x less expensive, so it all works out in the end. Quite tasty.

Most of the stuff that I have seen in the supermarkets has ALSO been Safflower, but it is mislabeled. “oops”.

TBH, it’s like Balsamic Vinegar: you may love it, but it is highly unlikely that you’ve ever actually had any…

Edited to add: here’s a link to the Wiki on Safflower: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safflower
Eat it up, it’s good for you! :slight_smile:

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The English town of Saffron walden was (re)named after its 16th–17th centuries saffron fields.

You can buy great saffron from Rumi Spice and help provide a viable alternative to growing poppies for Afghans. Recent reports tell of Iran flooding the market with lower quality saffron that is then resold as Afghanistan saffron so you want to buy from a verified source. It goes without saying that Iran produces some great saffron too but you will have difficulty buying it/should not buy it due to sanctions.

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Thanks for the recommendation! I usually run out of what I grow sometime in the Spring.

I have a friend who was born in Iran and visits her father once in a while. He has a good sized farm; the one acre he plants in saffron is what keeps the whole thing going.

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I am sorry. It gives some color but tastes and smells absolutely nothing like saffron

I would love to grow saffron but I have about an inch of top soil and followed by multiple feet of clay. Even in a raised bed the garden is mostly shady so I have trouble growing anything except invasive plants and ones that like disturbed soil (aka weeds).

It actually is probably not saffron at all given that price. Try dropping a few stamen into some water…if the water turns orange/red rather quickly it is dyed stamen; they will also no longer be reddish at all.

Real saffron will retain its reddish hue and water will either not change color or will yellow just a little.

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Iran is a major producer of very high quality saffron.

Saffron is also grown in Spain, but there is a nasty habit of many places cutting the saffron stamens with those from other flowers such a marigold.

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The rise of the Puritans killed off English saffron - the plant was seen as decadent so its cultivation was discouraged.

Cornwall is pretty much the only part of England that maintained a healthy addiction to saffron. Saffron was originally introduced into the region by the Romans who traded it for tin which was almost unobtainable anywhere else in Europe. And that means the most glorious of all things - saffron cake and treat buns - sweet leavened bread filled with currants, sultanas, peel and flavoured with saffron. Truly a wonderful food.

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Safflower is used here in Mexico (cheap and pretty good), but there is another plant that is called Azafrán bola https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ditaxis_heterantha that is used as a substitute of saffron. Cheap as dirt, but not so good.

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Our wonderful German Shepherd was very good about counter surfing. But she could not resist Cornish Saffron Bread. And that was a problem because we like it, too

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