Each year around the season of fall, the population of some smaller cities in Iran especially the city of Natanz, participate in the “Red Gold Festival”. Red Gold is a nickname for the most expensive spice in the world, Saffron. Many of the locals partake in the harvesting of this valuable spice and delicately pick the violet colored flowers placed in large saffron fields. As mentioned earlier the city of Natanz and some cities located in the South Khorasan province are the main destinations in Iran to find wide saffron fields. Many of the locals in the city own either large or small saffron laid patches and when the flower blossoms, along with their families, dress up in white and head towards the fields to extract their valuable share of Red Gold. The saffron harvesting process is a very delicate one that requires steady hands as after picking the flower, the red stigmas found in them have to be carefully removed and placed to dry. Many larger owned fields have workers busy in them putting hours of hardship in removing the saffron flowers and placing new seeds for the next season, the day after.
Tourists that travel to Iran will enjoy participating in this yearly event and most field owners welcome visiting guests very warmly. Most allow travelers to try their hand in picking the soft blossoms and even get a handful of the flowers as take-back gifts. The amazing aroma of saffron infused tea fills the atmosphere; travelers should definitely taste the drink (especially if the teakettle has been placed on a charcoal fire to give it a special smokey flavor) and take a packet of this special herbal tea back home.
As travelers visiting Iran shall see, the weight of the dried saffron stigmas is practically nothing, hours and days of hard work and squatting are put on the fields to retrieve a considerable amount of this precious spice, hence the reason all around the world it is known as Red Gold. The work does not end there and after the plucking and drying many locals start packaging the saffron in various size and shapes to sell at the best rate they can get. As said before, as soon as the harvesting ends, the very next day new saffron bulbs are carefully placed for the next season.
Saffron is an important ingredient in the Iranian cuisine and can be found in most types of dishes be it rice, gravy, dessert or even various drinks. Saffron is one of the best items, travelers to Iran can take back home for personal use or as valuable gifts.