Fairtrade Saffron In Photos

It’s Fairtrade fortnight.  As part of this, I thought I would share some photos of our Iranian saffron being harvested.  Steenbergs Fairtrade saffron comes from the Arghavan Dasht Paeezan co-operative in Iran, and is picked and processed by hand.

The saffron is harvested in autumn, when the weather is cold and humid enough for the flowers to bloom.  The farmers and farmhands have to go early in the morning to pick the crocuses when they open with the rising sun.  Farmhands are usually from extended rural families or groups from nearby villages.  As the day heats up, the picked crocuses become much harder to clean because the petals lose their freshness and rigidity.

The harvesting continues for a fortnight or a month, depending on the crop.  Every day new flowers bloom, and each day the farmers labour from before sunrise and leave in the late afternoon.

The temperature is close to freezing, and often an autumn breeze also blows strongly, making the saffron harvest very difficult. The workers are given breakfast, lunch and hot drinks during the harvesting to keep them warm.

After then, the stamens need to be picked out of the crocuses by hand, and then dried, before getting the final deep orange-red spice filaments.



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