Krocus Kozanis Saffron
Krokus Kozanis Products is a joint venture between the Cooperative de Safran of Kozani and the Greek cosmetics company Korres Natural Products (www.Korres.com) and was established in 2007. Krocus Kozanis Products is located in northern Greece in a city called Kozani. The combination of its hillside location, climatic conditions and soil composition enables the cooperative to produce some of the words finest saffron.
Korres is a Greek skin care brand with roots in Athens’ first ever Homeopathic Pharmacy. Set up in 1996 with the aim to utilise its extensive scientific resources for the development of clinical effective and safe products. The company today offers a range of natural and certified skin and hair products, a make up line as well as sun care products and herbal tea preparations with saffron.
The Cooperative was founded in 1971, consisting of approximately 1,000 member families which have the exclusive rights to cultivate, harvest, process and distribute Krocus Kozanis saffron.
Every autumn, for a period of 3 weeks, villages around Kozani are coloured purple by the saffron crocus flower petals. The harvesting process is extremely labour intensive and has remained unchanged for thousands of years, with every flower carefully handpicked and placed in wicker baskets ready for processing. Just one kilogram of dried saffron requires 150,000 flowers, the equivalent area of an entire football pitch, requiring at least 40 hours of hard labour to harvest.
The flowers are then sorted by hand on a spinning circular stone, where the highly valuable red saffron stigmas are separated from the stamens and petals. The stigmas are then dried through a traditional method, which requires considerable skill in order for the saffron to dry properly and preserve all of its valuable properties. This process, a trade secret, passed down from generation to generation is what gives Krocus Kozanis saffron its distinctive colour, aroma and taste. Thanks to the particular drying process and preservation of the essential oils, the shelf life of Krocus Kozanis saffron is five years. In comparison, the saffron purchased in the supermarkets often lacks provenance and has a typical shelf life of up to only two years. The final stage of the process, which takes place during the winter months involves the patient sorting and grading of the stigmas ready for packaging.
Greek saffron is internationally considered to be amongst the best in the world and samples of each harvest are sent to a laboratory at the University of Athens for independent testing against the international ISO 3632 standard. Please see our Quality page for further information.
The story of the Krocus Kozanis Cooperative
CNN’s Max Foster visits the Krocus Kozanis farmers cooperative in Kozani, northern Greece to see the picking of saffron threads first hand and to discuss the economy, employment and economic relief with the head of the cooperative. Whilst only 1,500 Kg was produced in 2013 Krocus Kozanis (a.k.a. Greek saffron) is regarded as some as the best in the world used for medicinal as well as flavouring purposes. The cooperative pays some 90% of the crops proceeds directly to the farmers giving them financial stability.
– harvest time in the crocus fields around Kozani