Saffron Tutorial: How to Unlock the Most Flavor

Saffron has a unique taste that can be described as floral, slightly sweet, and earthy with a subtle bitterness. It also has a distinct aroma that is often described as honey-like or hay-like. The flavor and aroma of saffron are quite intense and a little goes a long way. Saffron is a highly prized spice that has been used in cooking for centuries, and it adds a unique and luxurious flavor to a wide range of dishes, from savory rice dishes to sweet desserts.

Saffron has been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Some attributed medicinal properties of saffron include:

  • Anti-inflammatory: Saffron contains compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body.

  • Antioxidant: Saffron is rich in antioxidants, which can help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.

  • Mood-enhancing: Saffron has been shown to have mood-enhancing properties and may help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Digestive aid: Saffron has traditionally been used to help improve digestion and may help relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders such as bloating and indigestion.

  • Pain relief: Saffron contains compounds that may help relieve pain and reduce the need for pain medication.

Step 1: Grinding

Use a mortar and pestle to crush the saffron threads to release their flavor and color. Only grind what you need for each recipe.

Tip: Add Salt or Sugar

Add a pinch of salt to aid grinding saffron into a fine powder. You can use sugar if you are making a sweet recipe.

Step 2: Blooming

Infuse saffron in a couple tablespoons of a warm liquid such as water, milk or broth. Do not use boiling water. Let steep 15 minutes. 

Tips for Experimenting with Saffron:

  • Toasting. Try toasting it for a few seconds in a dry skillet to deepen the flavor and aroma.

  • Pairing. Pair with bold flavors such as cumin, cardamom and garlic to develop complex layers of flavor. 

  • Use in desserts. Add to creamy desserts such as ice cream, custards and cake. 

  • Storage. Store saffron in an airtight container. Whole saffron threads should be used in 1-2 years for optimum flavor. 

And a Fun Way to Bloom Saffron — Use Ice!

Our Iranian friends on TikTok say we're doing it all wrong! And they should know, as they are the world's largest producers and users of saffron. They suggest using an ice cube to bloom saffron instead of warm water. Leave about 30-60 minutes for your ice to melt and infuse the saffron. Watch our TikTok here.