Finding the difference between a real and a fake saffron has always been a big challenge for saffron customers, fake saffron can cause your health problems such as cancer, so knowing the facts and a reliable test which helps you to distinguish the fake and the real saffron will prevent you and your loved ones from any harm; here in this article we’ll help you with the different coloring of saffron types (UPS) how to distinguish the fake and real saffron and how to make the best purchase.
The highest coloring power of saffron is after harvesting and drying the saffron. Over time, saffron’s quality or coloring power decreases, but the aroma of saffron changes tangy scent. This is also the reason why last year’s saffron harvest has more fragrance than this year’s saffron harvest.
Important points about saffron coloring
First of all, note that a saffron should not immediately give color after contact with cold water. If this happens, it means that saffron has added colors. There is another important point about the added colors of saffron, real saffron in water makes the water light yellow, not orange. If water turns orange as soon as it comes in contact with saffron, it has added colors.
For proving this there is a test that we can do:
Pour 2 cm of cold water in a glass. Now put 3 threads of saffron in water and see when the saffron starts coloring. If it stains as soon as it comes in contact with water, it means it is counterfeit. If the color that saffron gave to water was not bright yellow and it was orange, it still means added colors. You can see the true color of saffron in the initial stage in the photo below. In principle, saffron begins to color with a light yellow color, and then this yellow color becomes darker and darker until it finally reaches orange. But the fake and artificial color of saffron gives the water an orange color from the beginning.
USP (visual color standards) of different saffron types:
Power coloring grade can be measured at the laboratory. As you know saffron has 4 different types: super Negin, Negin, Sargol and Pushal, and all these types have different USP powers, in here we will explain to you the diffternt USP of saffron types.
USP of Pushal saffron: The coloring power of Pushal saffron (saffron which has white tail at the bottom of each thread) is between 170 and 230.
USP of Sargol saffron: Sargol saffron: Sargol saffron, like Negin saffron, contains only stigmas, but the difference is that in Sargol saffron, the stigmas are cut off and are completely separate. The coloring power of Sargol is 210 to 260 USP and at it’s the best type if it reaches 300 USP.
USP of Negin saffron: The coloring power of Negin saffron (saffron that has no white roots and you only see the red branches of saffron in it) is between 230 and 260.
USP of super Negin saffron: The coloring power of super Negin saffron (saffron that upper part is larger and wider than ordinary Negin and is more useful for export) should be above 260.
In fact, saffron grade is considered as its ability to color and the resulting color quality. One of the main factors in the coloring of saffron is a chemical called crocin.
Crocin with chemical formula C44H64O24, and melting point of 186 degrees Celsius is the reason for most of the properties of saffron, including reducing blood lipids, strengthen vision and helping with the digestive system, also plays an important role in saffron coloring. In fact, crocin is red in color and appears orange when dissolved in water. So we can say that the main cause of red saffron color is crocin. It is noteworthy that due to the high solubility of crocin, it is also used as food and medicinal dyes.
What are the factors affecting saffron grade?
To measure the grade of the saffron, the most important factor is the color quality. But the aroma and taste of saffron are other factors influencing the quality of saffron variety. Climate, weather conditions and saffron hours also affect it. Length and thickness are important visual factors for determining the grade.