Learn more about Spanish saffron

Learn more about Spanish saffron

Among European countries, Spain grows the best saffron. Spain produces good saffron quality in lesser volumes than its Iranian rival. However, it is not considered the top saffron producer country. Spain saffron includes four types: La Mancha Saffron, Coupe Saffron, Rio Saffron, and Sierra Saffron. Each Spanish saffron type has specific characteristics and features. If you want to know more about different types of Spanish saffron, we encourage you to continue reading this post. We also intend to compare and contrast Iranian and Spanish saffron regarding quality and availability.

Also, we analyzed the reasons behind saffron popularity in this country to see why Spain is interested in producing this spice.

Spanish saffron production history

Spain was known as a significant saffron producer country, with 120 tons of saffron production in 1930. Spain held this title until 1970, when they only produced 60 tons of saffron annually. Spain’s saffron production rate decreased to the point that only 165 hectares of saffron land remained, with the highest production rate of 14 kg/Ha due to an increase in wages and other factors.

Spain Saffron production chart in 20th century.

Spain has also experienced good days in azafrán production. Unlike the saffron production challenges, the early 21st century was a good start for Spanish saffron to grow its production scale and popularity.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the price of saffron increased while the European economic crisis started. Therefore, the cultivation areas in Spain increased during that period. According to Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, from 2000 to 2001, nearly 233 hectares of land were under saffron cultivation, and almost 12 kg/ha was yielded.

spanish saffron production and yeild 2010

Following the Iran Ministry of Agriculture macro policies, Iranian farmers become more interested in the cultivation of saffron because of its low water and product attention requirements compared to other agriculture products, as well as high financial profitability. The ideal weather and soil conditions in Khorasan province and the farmer’s experience made Iran eligible for the “best saffron producer” title. Considering these factors, Iran produced approximately 400 tons of saffron in 2020. 

Considering these factors, Iran produced approximately 400 tons of saffron in 2020. Now, Spain is placed after India in terms of saffron production volume.

In recent years, Spain has declined three positions in the list of top saffron-producing countries. The top saffron-producing countries are as follows, which we fully covered in the “Top Saffron Producing Countries” blog post:

  • Iran
  • Afghanistan
  • Greece
  • India
  • Spain

Now, Spain is considered the world’s second-largest saffron producer and exporter. Spain has built a strong commercial reputation in the saffron market, a strong presence in the international and retail sectors, and broader access to multiple market channels.

Spain generally targets selling companies, large chain stores, and final consumers on an international scale. Therefore, a significant percentage of Spanish saffron is exported in small packages.

What are Spanish Saffron Types?

Spanish saffron, or azafrán as local Spanish people call it, includes four main types. Generally, the Spanish saffron aroma combines bitterness, fierceness, florality, and honey. The taste is also incredible, giving your food and drinks an earthy, husky flavor. As a whole, Spanish saffron is sweet, floral, and mellow. Below, we take a look into each type of specification and feature.

La Mancha Saffron: 

la mancha spanish saffron

La Mancha Spanish azafrán is not the most potent type. However, it is the most expensive type of Spanish saffron.

Now, why is it the most expensive type? 

Mainly because it is only farmed in a small specific protected region, due to regional weather conditions, La Mancha saffron is usually harvested between the second fortnight of October and the first fortnight of November. Also, La Mancha is usually toast-dried; this way, the threads gain a smoky flavor. La Mancha saffron is similar to the Iranian saffron “Poushal” type as it contains a much yellow style, mainly with color power between 180 and 190.





coupe spanish saffron

Coupé Saffron:

Coupe Spanish azafrán equals Iranian Sargol type, as its threads only have the red stigmas, without any yellow style. Coupe color power should be above 190. Therefore, Coupe contains high levels of crocin, safranal, and Picocrocin. The Coupe is known as the highest quality saffron among Spanish types.

Rio Saffron:

Rio Spanish azafrán is less expensive than the higher grades of La Mancha and Coupe Saffron. Rio is the third-grade quality of Spanish saffron. Rio saffron color power is generally between 150 to 180. 

Sierra Saffron:

resulting from the directed toasting of the saffron threads. This is the lowest quality of saffron found in Spain. Sierra has less than 110 color power degrees.

Knowing about Iranian saffron types is essential before you can compare those with Spanish saffron types.  Different Types of Saffron will provide a comprehensive insight into this subject.

Persian saffron vs. Spanish saffron:

Spanish saffron vs. persian saffron

Comparing Persian and Spanish saffron, we can conclude that there are many key differences between the products of the two origins. The differences between Persian and Spanish azafrán can be classified into two categories:  

Organoleptic and chemical differences

As a whole, Persian saffron is known for its best saffron quality, thanks to Iran’s saffron-producing geographical advantages. Iran, mainly Khorasan Province, has the ideal soil and weather condition and farming expertise to process and produce the best quality of saffron. The chemical analysis shows that Persian saffron has better quality in crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal components. Such differences normally result from the saffron origin specifications.

Spanish Saffron look

Visual differences

Persian saffron normally has long, thick, and flat stigmas, while Spanish saffron is curlier and shorter. Persian saffron mostly produces all-red saffron, while Spanish saffron contains more red and yellow saffron threads. Spanish saffron has a brighter red look, while Persian saffron is all-red and natural dark. Dark-red saffron stigma is an indicator of higher crocin it contains. Therefore, Persian saffron has more coloring ability.

Why is saffron popular in Spain?

Saffron is a popular spice in many parts of the world. This saffron has become popular in Spain for several reasons, as mentioned below:

Historical importance: The Moors introduced saffron to this region, and its cultivation became quickly popular and became an integral part of the Spanish culture. 

 Climatic compatibility: The special climate condition in Spain is an advantage that makes special regions of this country suitable for saffron production. Specifically, the La Mancha region is renewed and protected for saffron production. This place benefits from an ideal environment to produce high-quality saffron.

Culinary uses: Saffron is an essential ingredient in Paela, arroz con pollo, and many other Spanish stews and other dishes. The saffron special aroma, color, and flavor make this spice very special and highly valued in Spanish cuisine.

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO): La Mancha saffron has grated Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) making sure that the saffron produced in this region adheres to strict quality standards from this geographical area.

Export advantages: Spain is known as the second largest saffron producer after Iran. Spanish saffron is well-known for its quality, good color, and aroma.

How to find a good Persian saffron exporter?

There is no doubt that Persian saffron has the best saffron quality in the world. Already, Iran produces more than 95 percent of global saffron production volume. SunLand, a reputable Safran producer brand in Europe, has registered trademarks in many European countries such as Switzerland and Italy. Relying on years of business activity and our expertise, we have become one of the trusted Iranian saffron exporters to Europe, the Middle East, and the USA.

Buy Iranian saffron Online

FAQ About Spanish Saffron

Is Spanish saffron any good?

Azafran, or saffron, known as the ‘red gold’ of Spain, is one of the most valuable ingredients in Spain, which is present in a wide variety of dishes and culinary traditions. Today, many regions around the world produce this luxurious red spice. However, Spanish saffron is one of the best available.

Why is Spanish saffron so expensive?

Saffron’s high price tag comes down to how it’s picked. Each flower only gives a minuscule amount of usable spice, and everything has to be done by hand. While its origins are thought to be in the Mediterranean, Asia Minor and Iran, Spain, France, and Italy are the primary producers.

Is Spanish saffron the same as Persian saffron?

  • Shape: Persian strands are long, thick, and flat, while Spanish strands are shorter and curlier.
  • Color: Persian saffron is primarily dark red, while Spanish saffron has a mix of red and yellow threads. Spanish saffron looks brighter red overall.

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