Fresh saffron is not the same as fresh produce. Saffron threads are not sold right after being plucked from the saffron flower. Saffron threads need to be properly dehydrated to avoid mold and to prolong its shelf life. Once the dehydration process is complete then the saffron is ready to be sold and it can be sold as a fresh saffron for up to one year. So, the definition of fresh saffron is the following:
saffron is a saffron that is less than a year old".
Majority of online saffron sellers use the term "fresh saffron" to describe "quality of saffron" and they do not necessarily mean that their saffron is less than a year old. On this site, fresh saffron means that the saffron is less than a year old.
There are no visual clues to identify fresh saffron from a saffron that is stored properly for few years. Some sellers are claiming that fresh saffron can be identified by the bright orange color on the tip of saffron threads. This is not a sufficient sign of fresh saffron since we can show you three-year-old saffron threads that have orange color tips. If you are searching to buy saffron that is less than a year old you only have two options :
1- trust the sellers claim that their saffron is
2- buy saffron packages that have crop year date on them.
At Sahar Saffron, you do not need to take our word for it. All our packages have crop year date.
Look at the color of the saffron threads. They should be red. The darker the color red is the stronger the saffron’s coloring strength is. As the saffron gets older or exposed to sunlight the red color starts fading away and eventually the threads look bleached and will have a pale orange color.
Look at the color of saffron threads. If the threads have pale orange color, then the saffron is useless and you will be disappointed with the results.
Dying old saffron threads with dark red color, and then selling them as good quality saffron or mixing them with better quality saffron is very common.
There is a simple test called the “hot water test”. Pour some hot water over a few saffron threads in a white colored cup. Do not move the cup or the saffron threads during the test. If the color of the water becomes orange-red very quickly and stays that way for the next 5-10 minutes then most likely the color is from the dye. If the color of the water become very light orange and that orange color keeps getting stronger in the space surrounding the threads over 5-10 minutes, then that is the true color of the saffron and is not dyed. If you think that your saffron threads are mixed (some are dyed and some are not) pull out the suspicious threads and perform a separate test on them.
No matter how you store your saffron, you cannot stop it from getting old. Certain conditions in the environment where saffron is stored will accelerate the aging process. These conditions are heat, moisture, and light. Therefore, to get the most shelf life out of your saffron you need to store it in a cool, dry (use airtight container) and preferably dark place. Many chefs keep their saffron in their desk drawer and saffron stays just fine. You can store your saffron with other spices on the kitchen shelf but try to use it like any other spices within two years. Powdered saffron should be used within a year or sooner if they absorb moisture and become lumpy.
The quality of saffron is mostly measured by its coloring strength. Higher coloring strength means higher quality saffron. Generally, the coloring strength is presented by two or three digit number such as 95 or 180 or 235. The higher number represents higher quality saffron. According to ISO (International Organization for Standardization), any saffron with coloring strength of 190 and above is called GRADE I saffron. If you want to buy good quality saffron, buy grade 1 saffron.
Saffron is an easy spice to use when it comes to cooking. You do not need to be an experienced gourmet chef to use saffron. Use it in any dish, if you think it would improve the food's color /flavor/ aroma. Just throw a pinch of saffron in your cooking pot and experiment with this genie of spices. It will not ruin your food if you use it in a wrong dish. If you enjoy cooking with spices, in no time you will master it.
Yes, it does. Any herb or spice has some degree of medicinal properties and saffron is no exception. However, medicinal properties of saffron have been exaggerated by saffron sellers. They basically claim that saffron is good/cures any illness from head to toe, saffron makes you feel good, it is a great anti-depressant and so on. If you plan to use it for medicinal purposes consult your doctor.
Very few scientific research studies are available and there are signs that it may be beneficial. Pharmaceutical companies love to work with synthetic stuff that costs pennies to produce.They will never depend on a foreign country to supply them with expensive saffron. If they do, you will need to get a second mortgage on your home in order to buy their medicine. Just use this amazing spice for cooking and enjoy it. If you are already using it for medicinal purposes great! Just keep your daily consumption to less than a gram.