Saffron is graded via laboratory measurement of crocin (colour), picrocrocin (taste), and safranal (fragrance) content. Grading standards are set by the International Organization for Standardization, a federation of national standards bodies. ISO 3632 deals exclusively with saffron and establishes four empirical colour intensity grades: IV (poorest), III, II, and I (finest quality).

Samples are assigned grades by gauging the spice's crocin content. The I.S.O. (International Standard Organization) defines in its norm 3632-2 1994 the different qualities of saffron in filaments and powder based in their chemical properties. This is gathered in the following table:



CHARACTERISTICS

REQUIREMENTS

TEST METHOD

 

Saffron threads

Saffron powder

 

Moisture and volatile matter, % (m/m), max.

12

10

ISO 3632-2 CLAUSE 9

Total ash, % (m/m) on dry basis, max. 8 8 ISO 928 & ISO 3632-2 CLAUSE 10
Acid-insoluble ash, % (m/m), on dry basis, max.
Categories I & II
Categories III



1.0
1.5




1.0
1.5
ISO 930 & ISO 3632-2 CLAUSE 11
Solubility in cold water, %(m/m), on dry basis, max. 65 65 ISO 941
Bitterness, expressed as direct reading of the absorbance of picrocrocine at about 257 nm, on dry basis, min.
Categorie I
Categorie II
Categorie III 




70
55
40
  ISO 3632-2 CLAUSE 13
Safranal, expressed as direct reading of the absorbance at about 330 nm, on dry basis. All categories
Min.
Max.





20
50
  ISO 3632-2 CLAUSE 13
Colouring strength, expressed as direct reading of the absorbance of crocine at about 440 nm, on dry basis, min.
Categorie I
Categorie II
Categorie III




190
150
100




190
150
100
ISO 3632-2 CLAUSE 13
Total nitrogen, % (m/m), on dry basis, max. 3.0 3.0 ISO 1871
Crude fibre, % (m/m), on dry basis, max. 6 6 ISO 5498
                       
 
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