DRYING TECHNOLOGY, cilt.29, ss.1622-1627, 2011 (SCI İndekslerine Giren Dergi)
Saffron obtained from the dried stigmas of a flower scientifically known as Crocus sativus L. is considered to be the most precious and expensive agricultural product due to its labor-intensive harvest and post-harvest processing. The post-harvest processing such as dehydration and storage conditions determine stability, quality, and economical value of the final product. The contents of crocin (degraded carotenoids) and safranal (carotenoid oxidation products) are the key components that characterize color, taste, and aroma characteristics of saffron. In this work, the quality parameters such as crocin and safranal contents of commercial saffron that were obtained by using the freeze-drying method and natural sun drying were studied. The sarfanal contents of the samples dried in a freeze dryer were found to be five times higher than the safranal contents of the samples dried naturally under the sun, while crocin contents of the samples dried in a freeze dryer were about 40% higher than the crocin contents of the samples dried naturally under the sun. These encouraging results indicate that the freeze-drying process can be used effectively for dehydration of saffron by minimal loss of safranal and crocin contents.