The technical name of the flower is Crocus Sativus and you will never find it in the wild because it’s incapable of reproducing it self without human intervention. It is in fact a sterile plant and its harvest occurs in October and November each year. There are only a few hours available, at the very first light of dawn, for the harvest of the saffron. That is, before the sun pass through the petals and moisture dissolves the fragrance of pistils.
The flower consists of six petals with a delicate purple color. It has three yellow stamens and three fire red stigmas. Stamens are the male part of the flower, the female one, which is also the most important part, is represented by the stigmas. They’re joined to the base. It is from the stigmas that you get saffron. Here is where the aroma, the flavor and the coloring power lies.
Do you know how many flowers it takes to get a gram of saffron? 150!!
The hands separating the stigmas from the flower during harvesting must be very delicate and experienced. The first process in fact, greatly affects the yield and quality of the spice once it gets dried.
In Iran the filaments are exsiccated at room temperature, under the sun. In Italy, exsiccation is carried out by hot-air furnaces. In general, faster drying systems using hot air produce shorter and less volume filaments than the ones obtained by dehydration at room temperature.