Have You Tried: Saffron?

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By: , – By Dana Angelo White, Food Network’s Healthy Eats
5/2/2012 2:00 PM   :  28 comments   :  9,018 Views

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It’s hard to believe that a tiny part of a flower can also be a highly prized spice. Have you ever tasted the most expensive spice in the world?

What Is Saffron?

The delicate threads of saffron are actually the stigma of the purple crocus. Each flower gives only three strands that must be hand-picked. An acre of crocus flowers will yield 5 to 7 pounds of saffron, which is why the price tag for one ounce (approximately 13,000 threads) can easily approach $500.00! You may be able to find ground powdered saffron for less money but it’s not nearly as flavorful and loses its “umph” quickly.

Thankfully a little goes a long way. Trying to figure on how much to buy? The spice gurus at Penzey’s give these helpful conversions: 1 gram = 2 teaspoons whole, 1 teaspoon crumbled or ½ teaspoon powdered. 

Once you bring some home, store in a cool, dark place for up to six months.

Healthy Attributes

Known for its spicy-sweet and somewhat floral flavor, saffron also imparts a distinct burnt orange hue when cooked. Across many cultures it’s an integral ingredient in bouillabaisse, paella and rice dishes like risotto.

Once used for medicinal purposes for treatment of digestive issues, nowadays we focus on the benefits of its carotenoid content (those health protecting red and orange antioxidants).

Click Here for 5 Ways to Love Saffron

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Comments

  • 28
    Yes, of course I have tried it! Saffron is not very exotic... - 1/2/2014   9:36:26 PM
  • 27
    I like it but it is hard to find and so very expensive! - 1/2/2014   7:17:00 PM
  • 26
    Use it in Holiday breads Adds color and flavor - 11/6/2013   1:24:20 PM
  • 25
    Yes. I'm indian so i use it alot in rice dishes,chicken ,soups(dhall),curries etc.
    It's also used in aravedic medicine and beauty products. - 8/27/2012   4:22:27 PM
  • 24
    Never tried it. Does anyone have any good recipes to use saffron in? - 8/26/2012   2:13:58 PM
  • 23
    Tried twice to click on the "5 ways to love Saffron" but got an error message both times that I was looking for something that didn't exist.
    Did anyone else try clicking that? Did you get through? - 8/17/2012   11:06:27 AM
  • 22
    I love Saffron! My first trip to India got me completely hooked!! - 8/16/2012   3:16:32 PM
  • 21
    it's soooo good - 8/9/2012   7:51:32 AM
  • 20
    Yes, saffron is a great and needed ingredient in paella! - 8/9/2012   7:34:10 AM
  • 19
    I really enjoy saffron rice!!!! & Enjoyed this article!!!! - 5/24/2012   11:38:12 AM
  • PADDYBUG
    18
    Saffron from Iran is great! It is good in a variety of dishes, anywhere from Bastani (ice cream with a "twist") to Kebab to rice dishes. I have yet to have mine go bad and it adds great flavor and color to everything. Also, some here may like Sumac, which is used as a complimentary spice to rice dishes in that same region. - 5/8/2012   9:00:51 PM
  • ACINNOREV
    17
    I have a yearly supply of saffron. Bought some saffron crocus bulbs and planted them in a dry foot location. In spring there are leaves, in September lovely purple crocus blooms. With tweezers and tiny scissors I harvest the pollen laden stamen and let them air dry for a couple of days.The bulbs multiply each year. Now I have a nice fall show and can supply my family with saffron. A little goes a long way and we enjoy the delicate flavor and aroma. - 5/8/2012   2:58:43 PM
  • ACICEDA
    16
    Have not tried it; but I like paprika so I think I could use a little on some chicken dishes to help add some flavor. - 5/8/2012   8:37:01 AM
  • 15
    Have never tried it, but I'm always up for something new.
    - 5/3/2012   9:39:08 PM
  • 14
    Medieval cookery has many recipes that call for saffron. I keep several varieties in my kitchen. There is a marked difference depending on where and when it has been picked. - 5/3/2012   10:21:02 AM
  • 13
    Yes, I like it. I like to put it in some chicken and rice dishes. - 5/3/2012   9:46:46 AM
  • PARISTASAI
    12
    Lussekatter are traditional Swedish saffron buns baked for St Lucia day, December 13, and are one of my family's favorites. We buy saffron in tiny little packets at the health food store and linger over its aroma as we add it to the dough, as the buns bake and as enjoy the buns themselves. My daughter painted our kitchen a bright cheerful yellow. Can you guess the name of the color--saffron! - 5/3/2012   8:24:35 AM
  • 11
    yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - 5/3/2012   8:02:25 AM
  • 10
    love saffron.... - 5/3/2012   7:51:03 AM
  • 9
    I love saffron but haven't bought any because it's pricey and I didn't want to just waste money on something I'd probably only use a few times. But now that I have recipes to try it on, I will go out and get some today. - 5/3/2012   6:04:28 AM
  • 8
    Yes and I can live without it. It reminds me of truffles, caviar etc, you either like it, hate it or are ambivilent - 5/3/2012   5:22:18 AM
  • 7
    I like saffron...especially with rice. I have some that I bought inexpensively in Spain. When it runs out, I'll have to go back. - 5/2/2012   6:46:09 PM
  • 6
    I *LOVE* Saffron. I have also noticed that it is far cheaper to buy at our local Asian market than it is to buy it at the local snooty-tooty gourmet grocery stores. The quality is just the same.

    And noooooo.... turmeric is not "just the same as" saffron. It does give a similar yellowish color, but it's easy to get too much turmeric and then the food has more of a day-glo neon-ish yellow greenish tone. It tastes nothing like saffron. But... turmeric does have it's own antioxidant properties and hopefully will be the topic of a different "Have you tried....." article!! - 5/2/2012   6:28:24 PM
  • 5
    Have not tried it. Very Interesting. - 5/2/2012   5:35:58 PM
  • 4
    We love it at our house. It's great as just plain saffron tea, hot or cold. It is great in custards (think luxurious ice cream). To flavor chicken broth, there is no other yellow like saffron with its wonderful aroma.
    To PICKIE98, the Spanish may love to sell and use saffron, but most of it is grown in the arid plains of Iran and even mountains of Afghanistan. I would suggest you try it again with smaller amounts and not from Spain where it's known to be contaminated from mold because it the style (white part) is not properly removed so that it can bulk up the weight for sale. Once moldy, it will taste awful, especially if you are prone to mold allergies.
    We buy it with the redness coloration factor/intensity marked on the package. We also buy it powdered for ease of use and have never noticed any loss of flavor from the beginning of a half-ounce to the end, keeping it an air-tight container in the dark. I think taking pinches of threads out would more likely contaminate a container with damp fingers. - 5/2/2012   3:19:01 PM
  • 3
    I have it in my cupboard but I haven't used it yet. I clicked onto the link for some ideas but the link was broken :( I 'll try again tomorrow. - 5/2/2012   2:28:30 PM
  • 2
    yes, I love it!! - 5/2/2012   2:23:07 PM
  • 1
    yes, I brought lots of it home from Grenada when I was there,, very inexpensive there where they grow it,,but I cannot stand the taste or odor of it,, like curry, it leaves a horrible aftertaste in my mouth, makes the whole house reek of the odor.. I threw all of it in the trash. I am getting my carotene from carrots.. - 5/2/2012   2:20:36 PM

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