Saffron Article -
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Saffron is the dried yellow stigmas of the violet flowers of Crocus sativus, a member of the Iris family. The stigmas must be harvested by hand, and it takes 225,000 of them to make one pound of saffron.


Saffron is mainly used as a colorant and flavoring for cheeses, pastry, rice and seafood dishes. Saffron is used in spice blends for paella, curry, kheer and bouillabaisse.


Saffron is native to the Mediterranean and is grown in Spain, France, Portugal, India and Italy. Spain is considered the premium source of saffron. Its flavor is distinctive and agreeable in character.


Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. The ancient Assyrians used saffron for medicinal purposes. The Greeks and Romans used it to perfume their luxurious baths. The bright orange-yellow color also made saffron useful as a dye.

botanical drawing of Crocus sativus


Rich yellow

Flavor & Aroma

Strong perfume and bitter honey-like taste

Sensory Profile

Saffron has a strong perfume and a bitter, honey-like flavor. The taste is pleasantly spicy and bitter and the odor is tenacious.

Aug. 7, 2009 2:08 am
Aug. 16, 2009 5:32 pm
I found saffron at my local kroger, so I'm sure it's a spice you can get at other larger grocery stores. It is expensive though! It was eighteen dollars for one sprig! I didn't have the money to get it at the time. I have never used saffron in any of my dishes, so I'm not sure just how far one little sprig of it will go. Anyone else know?
Oct. 26, 2009 10:57 am
i got mine at a atlantic superstore i was like YAY as it wasn't located at my local sobeys it was 8 dollars just for like... a lil over a teaspoon
Nov. 15, 2009 9:25 am
I was very excited to find inexpensive saffron in a little shop in Turkey when I was there last week. I got a whole packet of it (10 grams) for about $3.50 (4 Turkish lira). Now I'm excited to try cooking with it.
Nov. 28, 2009 3:14 pm
That's why I like living abroad. Over and over from India to Turkey to Mexico I've found saffron (Spanish and other varieties) for pennies. I just picked up four tablespoons for the equivalent of 50 cents US. Sorry to brag but sometimes I just have to let someone know some of the positives of living outside the US.
Jan. 19, 2010 10:22 am
Yes, you can find it in stores like Wal-Mart.
Feb. 8, 2010 5:12 pm
You can order powdered saffron from J Viviano and sons On the Hill 314-771-5476 This comes in a small red plastic capsule and is just a pinch, but this is enough for 1 cup uncooked rice the way that my Milanese Grandmother taught me to make it.
Mar. 26, 2010 7:16 pm
What about growing the crocus flower? It can't be that simple, can it???
Oct. 22, 2010 3:52 pm
I bought some saffron crocus bulbs from a bulb catalog and planted them in my herb garden. I get a couple of dozen strands of saffron a year--but it's enough for one recipe of something, and it's fun to say I grew it myself!
Nov. 20, 2010 1:24 pm
I just bought some Spanish Saffron at Trader Joe's Market in Sacramento, California .02 oz (.7g) for $5.95 - in the local Walmart here it was more than 14 dollars for the same amount. Check out
Dec. 23, 2010 7:55 am
definitely Trader Joe's has the most affordable Saffron I have found!
Feb. 19, 2011 7:57 am
I found saffron flower (azafran en flor) at a local Mexican market here in Arkansas. It's dried, not fresh, but it was less than $5 for 1/4 oz (7g). Try looking at the little Mexican mercaditos. You would be surprised at the spices they carry that you can't find in regular grocery stores. And they're a lot cheaper!
Mar. 18, 2011 7:25 pm
The inexpensive stuff is not saffron its safflower however it will color your food, just won't give it the wonderful flavor of saffron. I have been cooking with saffron all my life and get it from the middle east. While it is expensive, you don't need very much. Get a mortar and pestle and grind a pinch at a time, then put it in hot water and let it steep. That can then be added to many foods. You can also add it to melted butter and put it over rice etc.
Jun. 24, 2011 2:43 pm
I just found some saffron threads at TJMaxx for 5.50! I have never tried it before, and can't wait to use them. I geuss I got a pretty good deal. I read that powdered saffron is sometimes mixed with filler.
Jul. 2, 2011 6:46 am
Shocked to find Saffron for only $1.29 (1/4 0z.) quite a bit, in a small mexican/spanish grocer in town. Over by the dried peppers and stuff, Mi Costenita brand. Beats the 10 to 15 bucks at Kroger or Publix.
Aug. 4, 2011 11:27 am
Hello guys! Greetings from Dallas, where the heat has driven me and my housemates onto the interwebs! I haven't commented on this site before, but reading some of the comments here on one of my favorite spices, wonderful saffron, I felt I really needed to. I hope I can help someone not to make a rather unfunny mistake. The stuff you find in amongst Latin American spices, in 1/4 oz. or 1 oz. packets, labeled "azafran", IS NOT SAFFRON!! Despite what the label says. It is dried safflower. It can color things a similar bright orangey/yellow, but it in no way has the delicious, inimitable flavor and potent scent of real saffron. In my experience, the cheapest places to regularly get real saffron are stores that cater to an Indo/Pakistani customer base. There one can usually find it in one gram and 5 or 10 gram little plastic boxes. Used to cost about 3-4$ for one gram there but in the last 18 mos has gone up to 6-7$ for the 1 gm and about 11-13$ for the 5 or 10 gm boxes, a much bette
Aug. 4, 2011 11:30 am
My apologies for the length of the previous post! I DID put in paragraph breaks, I swear! I dont know why they didn't show! :( Sorry!
Lei Lani 
Sep. 2, 2011 9:11 pm
The Quasardrake post is very helpful to me. I have only recently started to use Saffron, and I needed exactly this kind of advise to help me use it properly. Its equally important to me to know what to avoid when shopping for something expensive, so that I don't waste money on an inferior product that will not give me the results I want. Many thanks for your expert advise.
Oct. 16, 2011 1:15 am
The Quasardrake post was amazing. I have always wanted and needed information about saffron and you have definitely covered all bases. I will purchase it armed with all the knowledge i needed. Thanks for your infinite wisdom. You are the Bomb
Jan. 24, 2012 9:25 pm
thanks for the help quasardrake, i appreciate your post!!!!!!
Feb. 26, 2012 4:23 pm
Try and use only a pinch of the saffron threads for a recipe for 4 - 6 people. if you use too much it will taste moldy and bitter. If you soak the threads in a bit of hot water to start it helps to release the colour. If you also put a bit of oil in the recipe it helps to release the flavour. So if you are making Paella, use some olive oil in the recipe and some nice chicken broth too for the rice. To make saffron rice, saute some chopped onion in a bit of olive oil, saute a cup of the raw rice with the onion, add a few threads of saffron too, and then add 1.5 cups of hot water, chicken stock or coconut milk. Bring to a simmer, put a lid on it and turn it down to very low, cover it and let it cook for 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat, without peeking at the rice and leave it for another 15 minutes. I sometimes add sliced almonds and sultanas to the rice when I am sauteeing it.
Apr. 9, 2012 10:55 am
If you live in Canada and have access to Bulk Barn stores you can buy saffron in a (I think) 1 oz. plastic box for around $6.
Aug. 30, 2012 10:28 pm
I have spanish saffron but never knew how to use it. "Ooomimi" suggested melted butter and saffron. I think I'll start there and progress to the other dishes suggested. The previous suugestions and info. Has been an education. Thank You
Feb. 24, 2014 10:20 am
The Quasardrake post was amazing and very helpful. I was looking for any info about "saffron", I had no idea what is it. Quasardrake, you covered all, thank you so much, I really appreciate...wish you the best.
Feb. 8, 2015 9:26 am
Every once in a while I find it at TJ Max or Marshalls, at a fairly good price.
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