Sahar Saffron, fresh saffron market
Sahar Saffron, fresh saffron market

Saffron Questions:

What is fresh saffron?

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 fresh saffron for up to one year. So, the definition of fresh saffron is the following:

 "fresh saffron is 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. 

How can I identify fresh saffron?

There are no visual clues to identify fresh saffron from saffron that is stored properly for a 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 fresh.
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 a crop year date. 

What is a sign of good quality saffron?

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. 


What is a sign of poor quality saffron?

Look at the color of saffron threads. If the threads have a pale orange color, then the saffron is useless and you will be disappointed with the results.  

What country produces the best quality saffron?

All major saffron producing countries (Afghanistan, Greece, India, Iran, Italy, Morocco, and Spain) are capable of producing the best quality saffron if Mother Nature cooperates and provides them the ideal condition. We have had the opportunity to trade saffron from all major saffron producing countries for many years and based on our experience we have seen extremely high-quality saffron from each one of these countries. Our advice to you is that do not consume your time researching which country produces the best quality saffron but to learn how to identify the best quality saffron.  In order to provide guidance for the consumer, saffron grades and analytical reports have been created which categorize the quality of saffron independent of the country of its origin. Buy saffron based on what quality it possesses, not where it was produced. If you buy your saffron based only on the country of its origin and nothing else, then you are taking a risk since all saffron producing countries also produce low-quality saffron.


How to recognize genuine Kashmiri saffron?

If you have never seen Kashmiri saffron threads before and you are planning to buy genuine Kashmiri saffron elsewhere this information should help you to recognize a genuine product.
Kashmiri saffron threads have two unique characteristics that no other saffron in the world has. First is the physical shape of the thread itself. Kashmiri saffron threads are flat and thin like a paper and slightly wider especially toward the tip of the thread than saffron threads from other regions of the world. Second, is that the threads feel very smooth and sort of silky to the touch and no other saffron in the world has this characteristic. For these reasons, it is not a very wise strategy for the Packers to mix Kashmiri saffron threads with non-Kashmiri saffron threads. There are roamers out there saying that low-quality Kashmiri saffron is being mixed with good quality Iranian saffron and is being exported and sold as high-quality Kashmiri saffron (since Kashmiri saffron is more expensive than Iranian saffron). This simply is not true because when you mix non-Kashmiri saffron threads with Kashmiri saffron threads the differences will be obvious to the eye and you do not need to be a saffron expert to realize that there are two different saffron threads in the package. The only way this would be possible is if the entire batch consists of non-Kashmiri saffron and the buyer has no idea of what Kashmiri saffron should look like.

What is the most common saffron adulteration?

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.  


How can I find out if my saffron is dyed or not?

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 becomes 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.


How to store saffron?

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.


How is saffron quality measured?

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.

How hard is to cook with 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 the wrong dish.  If you enjoy cooking with spices, in no time you will master it. 


Does saffron have medicinal property?

Yes, it does. Any herb or spice has some degree of medicinal properties and saffron is no exception. However, the 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.

Can saffron cures cancer? 

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. 

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