Saffron is a spice that comes from the dried stigmas of the blue or purple crocus flower. It has been used for centuries as a seasoning and dye, and it’s one of the most expensive spices by weight. The red-orange threadlike strands are used to flavor dishes such as rice pilaf, risotto Milanese, paella Valenciana, and bouillabaisse Marseillaise. Saffron can also be mixed with honey to make a liqueur called saffron liquor. The price of saffron fluctuates depending on its availability in different years, but you should always buy it in small quantities because once exposed to air or heat, it will quickly lose its flavor—and it’s color. But does it go bad?
Saffron has an indefinite shelf life because it does not contain any water, which is what causes most foods to spoil. The flavor and potency of saffron will fade over time, but this does not change the quality. When stored properly in a cool and dry location, saffron will last two to three years before losing flavor.
To learn more about saffron and how to store it, and how to know if it should be replaced, keep reading!
- Does Saffron Go Bad Over Time?
- Is Saffron Good if the Color has Faded?
- How Can You Tell If Saffron Has Gone Bad?
- How to Properly Store Saffron
- Does Saffron Go Bad After Opening?
- Can You Get Sick from Old Saffron?
- What are the Health Benefits of Saffron?
- What is Mexican Saffron?
- Alternatives to Saffron
- Related Questions
Does Saffron Go Bad Over Time?
The flavor and color of saffron will fade over time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the saffron is spoiled. The flavor will slowly dissipate because there aren’t any water molecules in a dried spice to help retain its flavor—but again, this does not affect its quality.
You can use older saffron threads or powder that has lost some of its potency for cooking, although it may result in a different outcome than you were expecting from your recipe. If you’re using saffron as an ingredient, don’t hesitate to add more until the desired results are achieved because much will give you the taste and color you desire.
Is Saffron Good if the Color has Faded?
It is perfectly normal for saffron to fade as it ages, but you should replace the spice if the color has faded and there isn’t any flavor left. This is especially true if you’re using saffron for its vibrant red color and not its taste.
How Can You Tell If Saffron Has Gone Bad?
If there is no color or flavor left, then you’re probably looking at an old spice. But even if the saffron has changed in color and appears darker than usual, this doesn’t mean it’s gone bad. It should be replaced if it has been exposed to water as this can cause it to spoil. If this happens, it will have a bad smell.
To test for the freshness of your saffron, take a few threads and rub or crush them in your palm, then smell and taste them. If the fragrance is faint and the taste undetectable, the saffron threads should be replaced.
How to Properly Store Saffron
Storing saffron is similar to storing any spices:
- Saffron is best stored in a small, airtight container. This will keep moisture and oxygen out of the saffron, ensuring it keeps its flavor.
- It can be kept for two years before it loses its potency.
- Humidity of the storage location should be around 40%
- Using foil in your airtight container will help keep light out.
- Storing saffron in small batches will help keep it longer. One container consistently being opened will expose the saffron to more moisture and light.
Does Saffron Go in The Fridge?
No, saffron does not need to be kept in the fried as it is not a perishable item. If you choose, saffron can be kept in the fridge if it is properly sealed. It isn’t always recommended as it can cause moisture to enter the saffron when the container is opened.
Does Saffron go bad at room temperature?
Saffron won’t go bad at room temperature, but it is best stored in a cool and dry place.
Does Saffron Go Bad After Opening?
Saffron won’t go bad if opened, but it is essential to ensure it is sealed tightly away from moisture and light. A cool and dry pantry is the best location to store saffron. If you open saffron and store it improperly, it will lose flavor and color much faster.
Can You Get Sick from Old Saffron?
No, you can’t get sick from consuming old saffron. It will lose flavor, potency, and color as the saffron ages, but unless it has been exposed to water or any other liquid, it won’t become moldy or become rancid. If you eat rancid saffron, it will most likely cause an upset stomach.
What are the Health Benefits of Saffron?
Saffron is more than just a spice that makes food flavorful and colorful. Saffron is full of health benefits for people of all ages:
- high in antioxidants like crocin and safranal.
- It can treat depression and improve mood
- Can help fight cancer
- Work as an aphrodisiac
- Lower blood sugar
- Improve memory
- Improve eyesight in adults with macular degeneration
What is Mexican Saffron?
Mexican saffron or safflower is unrelated to real saffron, although the two share a similar color. Mexican saffron is native to the Mediterranean and cultivated in Europe and the United States. The spice is named safflower because its flowers resemble genuine saffron. The flowers are similar in size and shape, but instead of containing stigmas that can be dried and used like saffron, the parts that produce the flavor and color in Mexican safflower are located at the base of each petal.
Although the two spices have a similar color when they’re fresh, their colors become different after being dried. Real saffron gives off a deep red hue, while Mexican safflower gives off a golden-yellow color. In terms of cost, real saffron is about ten times more expensive than Mexican saffron.
Alternatives to Saffron
Saffron is quite expensive and has a very distinct flavor. If saffron isn’t your thing, other spices can be used in its place.
Turmeric is known for its health properties. Many health-conscious people will add turmeric to their foods along with black pepper. It has a unique color and is best described as earthy and bitter. FGO’s organic turmeric root powder is one of the best on the market. Imported from India, it is certified organic and non-GMO.
Safflower is a common alternative to saffron due to its more affordable price and flavor. Safflower’s flavor can be described as sweet and chocolatey. It is milder than safflower, and the taste diminishes when cooked.
Suncore Foods safflower powder is made with non-GMO ingredients, is gluten-free, and can be used as a yellow food coloring.
Curry is a common spice that may be substituted for saffron in many recipes with great success. It’s made by combining several methods, and there are numerous curry variants on the market which contain turmeric, which is an excellent substitute for saffron.
In terms of quantity, curry should add more flavor to meals; therefore, you may want to use less than saffron. IT can be used on a variety of dishes, including sauces, stir-fries, stews, and even soups. It is commonly used in Indian cooking. Spicewalla makes its curry with non-GMO ingredients.
You can effectively use paprika powder as a substitute for saffron if you’re lacking it from your pantry. Even if the hue of your dish is a bit darker than saffron, paprika will color it to the desired shade. You must use as much paprika as is required by the recipe and your own preferences in terms of quantity.
HQOExpress makes it paprika without the use of herbicides and pesticides. It is certified organic and non-GMO.
Why is saffron so expensive?
Saffron is the most expensive spice around. This is due to the cost and time behind harvesting the spice. It takes 75,000 saffron flowers to make one pound of saffron. Each plant can only produce a small amount of saffron, and it has to be harvested by hand. Each flower can only produce three stigmas which are the part of the flower that gives flavor and color to saffron.
Are turmeric and saffron the same thing?
No. Although they are spices that come from different parts of the plant, both have different flavors and colors. Saffron gives off a sweet, fruity flavor with a deep red color, while turmeric gives off a more earthy flavor with an orange-yellow color. The most significant difference between the two spices is the cost. Saffron is the most expensive spice, while turmeric is one of the least expensive.
How long does saffron stay in your system?
Saffron is water-soluble so it will absorb into your body fairly quickly, about one to two days. This also works with how long the saffron stays in your system. It usually only stays in your system for two or three days.