What is Saffron?

Ariana Cuadra
Savory Spice Team
Savory Spice Shop

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What is Saffron?

What if everything you touched (or cooked) turned to gold? Coffee mug? Do it. You’re fancy now. Shoes? Ouch, but yes, worth it. Your favorite fake-gold earrings you got for $7.99? Stop. You’d probably transition from stoked to horrified pretty quick though, as you turn everything and everyone you’ve ever loved into very on-trend, but much less useful or alive versions of themselves. It’s called the Midas-touch, and it didn’t work out so well for its namesake. But with a little help from a special spice, you can have your gold and eat it too. It’s called saffron, and once you see the glamorous golden hues it imparts to color-receptive dishes, you’re going to get a little greedy. But like, in a good, more-gold-food-please kind-of-way.

What is Saffron?

Saffron is harvested from the plant Crocus sativus. The iconic bright red-gold saffron threads are the actual stigma and styles of the flower. Each flower grows three of these saffron threads, which can only be harvested, prepared, and dried by hand. It takes 80,000 flowers to produce one pound of Saffron threads, which is why it is so expensive and highly prized. Wow!

Crocus sativus harvesting
Caballeros picking Crocus sativus

Where does Saffron come from?

Over 90% of the world’s saffron is produced in Iran. Other producers include Spain, Italy, India, Greece, and more. Crocus sativus thrives in the climate surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. I have to admit, I would too. Crystal clear waters, mild temperatures, sunny skies? Yeah, sign me up. In 2018, Dan Hayward of Savory Spice Boulder shared his incredible experience harvesting saffron with the locals of the town of Villafranca de los Caballeros, Spain. It’s worth the read.

Locals of Villafranca de los Caballeros harvesting saffron
Locals of Villafranca de los Caballeros harvesting saffron threads

What does Saffron taste like?

The taste of saffron is unique and mysterious. Truly, it is incomparable. Delicate, floral, luxurious, enticing, slightly bitter… you really have to find out for yourself.

How to use Saffron:

There are two common preparations for saffron, grinding to a powder or brewing. Powdered Saffron can be added directly to a dish like while saffron threads need to be steeped or brewed to withdraw the iconic flavor and golden color. For example, just add a couple of threads to a pot of rice for a huge flavor boost.

Our Saffron:

Powdered Saffron: Saffron is most commonly sold in thread form. Powdered saffron is a great alternative to using threads as it is much easier to accurately measure for a recipe.

Moroccan Saffron: This organically sourced saffron comes from the fields of Suktana, a town just south of Taliouine, Morocco.  

Spanish Coupe Saffron: Our Spanish saffron is of the Coupe grade which is the best saffron you can get from the La Mancha region.

Saffron Risotto: This “Pot of Gold” Spice ‘n Easy just needs butter and parmesan to create a floral, earthy meal that serves 8.

Saffron Salt: This Savory Spice original is available only in February! This is a vibrant, floral salt with a delicate vanilla note.

Saffron Salt Scallops

Saffron Salt - Only Available in February!

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Saffron & Chanterelle Risotto

Saffron & Chanterelle Risotto Spice ‘n Easy

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This rare spice is a pleasure to cook with and even more exciting to eat. I can’t wait to try out some recipes like Candied Lemon Shortbread Cookies and Crispy Persian Style Rice. Get your Midas-touch on with saffron for some golden experiments in the kitchen and tell us what you think!

Share your creations with us on social media using #savoryspiceshop.

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