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Studies on saffron (Crocus sativus L.) from Tuscan Maremma (Italy): effects of geographical origin, cultivation environment and drying method on volatile emission


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Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is a spice used in the food industry in an ever increasing, partly due to consumer preference for natural products. Crocus sativus stigmas are converted into saffron spice by a dehydration treatment. The postharvest treatment of the stigmas, particularly the drying process, is critical to the quality of saffron as measured by the level of secondary metabolites. The aim of this project was to study the volatiles compounds in saffron that came from three different sites of the Maremma Grossetana (Grancia, Pari and Alberese) (Tuscan). The corms were grown both in the place of origin and in the province of Pisa. Fifteen compounds were detected, accounting from 92.3% to 97.8% of the total volatiles. The main characteristic volatile compounds of the dried stigmas saffron were safranal, isophorone, 4-keto isophorone, γ-pyronene, dihydrooxophorone. Differences were found in the composition of volatile compounds both based on the place of cultivation and in a function of time of dehydration.