Saffron - How To Use

(Also known as Red Gold)


What is the most expensive spice?

Grassy, Bitter and Honeyed, Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It has a warm, musky smell like freshly cut hay, with a mild metallic note. Saffron imparts an intense yellow colour to a dish while emitting strong perfume and a delicate flavour. A little pinch goes a long way. 

Saffron comes from the dried yellow stigmas of the saffron crocus flower. Always look for vibrant red strands, as duller red or brown colours may donate to stale. Although doubts remain on its origin, evidence suggests that Saffron originated from Iran, which is currently the world’s largest producer of saffron. Greece holds the second position and also makes a claim as its possible birthplace. Trade and use of saffron date back thousands of years, with early recording beginning in the 7th Century AD. 

Countries like Azerbaijan have increased saffron production as of 2020. Sales to countries such as the United Arab Emirates accounted for the largest share of Azerbaijan's saffron exports since the beginning of 2020. 

What flavours go with saffron?

  • Almond
  • Anise
  • Cardamom
  • Cauliflower
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Nutmeg
  • Orange
  • Potato
  • Rhubarb
  • Rose

Saffron is still grown in the UK and traditionally it was grown in Cornwall where it was a key ingredient in the Cornish Saffron cake alongside nutmeg. Our Advieh-E Khoresh is bursting with saffron notes. This award-winning blend is a demonstration of how saffron is a cornerstone alongside the other flavours of lack limecardamom and rose petals

Health Benefits 

Part of the Iris family (Crocus sativus), saffron is an excellent source of minerals and is often used in tea. 

Interesting Facts

  • Just 6,000 flowers and 12 hours of labour will give you 30g or 1 oz of saffron. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid ground saffron as it is hard to know if it is genuine.
  • Saffron has been around since the Bronze Age, prized for millenniums. Historical hieroglyphical evidence suggests that Cleopatra bathed in saffron-scented mare's milk.
  • The Essex town of Saffron Walden gets its name from the spice that grew there. Saffron is still grown in the UK to this day in Essex and Devon, where it is said to have a sweeter honey-like taste.
  • La Mancha in Spain has EU-protected status for its prized saffron.
  • Saffron's modern name derives from the Arabic for yellow.
  • Saffron has long been used to dye textiles. Buddhist priests have long worn yellow robes dyed with saffron. 
Chief flavour profile

Picrocrocin: (musky, earthy, warm and bitter) The picrocrocin compound and the safranal compound are both unique to saffron. Their qualities and their potency mean less is more. The bitterness of saffron complements and balances other potent compounds that come from caraway, paprika and black pepper to balance the overall complete taste.  Saffron dissolves better in water than oil, allowing time for the flavour to escape and elevate.


Blends to try with Saffron

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