Sahar Saffron
Sahar Saffron

An intuitive approach to grade saffron quality

Flavor, aroma and coloring strength combined together constitute the quality of saffron.  We will show you that a simple manipulation of the numeric values of these components could produce a single number that can be presented as the quality of the saffron.  In addition, this number makes it easier to compare qualities of different saffron brands.  For example, table-A below shows the numeric values of color, flavor, and aroma for different brands of our 2012 crop saffron. The second column from left in the table-A is the ISO’s minimum requirements for grade-1 saffron.  


Table A
  ISO 3632 Greek organic Greek organic Italian Kashmiri Moroccan
Color  190 256 273 225 259 251
Aroma 20 41 42 42 48 40
Flavor 70 91 101 83 90 97


Can you name a saffron brand in table-A which has the highest color, flavor, and aroma? As you can see it is not that simple. Sahar Saffron has developed a simple algorithm that can be used to grade quality of saffron. We have called this algorithm the Quality Volume (QV) method. We later use QV to calculate the Quality Rate (QR) of each of our saffron brands. 


Quality Volume (QV) method:

For each brand of saffron multiply the numeric values of its aroma, flavor, and color together. If you remember from high school geometry, multiplication of three numbers together metaphorically could represent a volume of something and since aroma, flavor and color are quality numbers; we call this volume, Quality Volume (QV).   These multiplications that are large numbers can be seen in the second row of table-B.

We can make these large numbers proportionally smaller by dividing them by 10000 and rounding them up and calling it QVm. The last row in table B shows QVm for every brand of our saffron. The brand that has the largest QVm is the best so far. In table B organic Greek seems to be the best with the QVm value of 116

Table B
  ISO 3632 Greek organic Greek organic Italian Kashmiri Moroccan
  266000 955136 1158066 784350 1118880 973880
QVm 27 96 116 78 112 97

Another test that is done for measuring saffron quality is to figure out the percentage of its moisture. ISO 3632 requires that grade1 saffron’s moisture should be less than %12.  Therefore it makes sense that we take out the moisture from our QVm. To do this, let M represent the percentage of the moisture and volatile matter. Then all we need to do is to multiply the QVm's values by (1-M).  The last row in table-C below shows the values of QV for all our saffron after taking out the moisture from QVm. The label QVm stands for "QV with moisture".


Table C
  ISO 3632 Greek organic Greek organic Italian Kashmiri Moroccan
QVm 27 96 116 78 112 97
1-M %88 %88 %88 %87.5 %91.9 %91
QV 24 84 102 68 103 88


The brand with the highest QV intuitively would be the best selection. As you can see, after taking into account the moisture content; QV of our organic Greek saffron goes down from 116 to 102.  QV of Kashmiri saffron goes down from 112 to 103. Since 103 is bigger than 102, we can say that our 2012 crop of Kashmiri saffron had the highest quality compared to our other saffron brand.

Quality Rate (QR)

QR of any brand of saffron simply indicates how much that brand of saffron is better in comparison to the minimum requirement for grade 1as defined by ISO. How many times have you seen that a saffron seller claims that his/her saffron is grade 1+ (or grade A+) meaning that the quality of their saffron is above grade 1  But by how much the quality of their saffron is above grade 1?, QR addresses this problem. 
To obtain the QR of any saffron just divide its QV by the ISO’s QV. QRs of our saffron brands are shown in the last row of table D. As an example, the QV of our Kashmiri saffron is 103. If you divide this number by 24 which is the ISO’s QV, we will get 4.3. The number 4.3 simply means that the quality of our Kashmiri saffron is about 4.3 times higher (stronger) than the grade 1 saffron suggested by the ISO. As you can see the quality of all our saffron brands can be shown by A+ but that does not tell us which one is the best. However, QR tells us how far quality of each brand stands to the right of the quality of grade 1 saffron defined by ISO. At Sahar Saffron, we provide you the Quality Rate (QR) for each brand of saffron we sell. 


Table D
  ISO 3632 Greek organic Greek organic Italian Kashmiri Moroccan
QV 24 84 102 68 103 88
QR 1 3.5 4.2 2.8 4.3 3.7

Please note that the values of QV in our table are not indicators of the quality of the saffron of their country of origin.  Values of our QV in the table only reflect the quality of our current inventory of saffron in comparison to each other.
You can skip all the reading above and use the following formula to calculate QR of your saffron.


QR= {(color) x (aroma) x (flavor) x (1-M)} / {190x20x70x (%88)}
M is the percentage of the moisture content of your saffron.

QR is always > or = 1. If QR is smaller than 1 then according to ISO 3632 your saffron cannot be a grade 1 saffron.

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