Saffron Vs Turmeric (The Verdict)
So here we are, the age-old question; is saffron better than turmeric? Is there even a comparison? Let’s find out.
Saffron and turmeric are as old as time itself and both have similar, rich histories. Both ancient medical herbs have a special place in our kitchen and have for millennia.
With saffron heralding from Europe and the Middle East and turmeric coming from India and South East Asia, both spices have had their time in the spotlight in these different regions of the world for similar reasons; strong flavours, delicious aroma and most interestingly, a multitude of health benefits as alternative medicines.
Saffron and turmeric are two spices that are quite similar and often believed to be interchangeable by some. Turmeric is so similar to saffron to the untrained eye that it has long been sold by dishonest spice merchants as adulterated ground saffron.
While saffron’s price(read why so Saffron is expensive) point may indicate that saffron is more valuable therefore better than turmeric, this is not necessarily the case. We know that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because of the lengthy and delicate harvesting process while turmeric derives from the ginger family and is grown in the wild forests of Asia and is far easier to harvest.
Saffron’s price is also due to the incredible scope of medicinal healing properties that saffron offers. Saffron is an excellent agent in detoxifying your body, boosting your immune system, reduces the risk of heart attack, and increasing the production of serotonin which helps to combat depression and anxiety. Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of saffron, the spice has also been linked to the shrinking of cancer cells.
So what are the benefits of turmeric?
Much like saffron, turmeric is excellent at combating inflammation and digestive problems. Turmeric has high antioxidant properties like saffron, can intercept the production of cancer cells, aid digestive issues and slow down the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which again, is much like saffron.
However, saffron’s health benefits have not been as wildly studied as those of turmeric despite both spices having been used in their respective regions much in the same way since the beginning of time. More than 6,000 scientific studies have been conducted to prove the health benefits of turmeric, while studies into saffron’s powers are far fewer.
Can Saffron Be Replaced With Turmeric?
In short, no. With saffrons European and Middle Eastern origins and turmeric coming from Asia, both spices suit distinctly different flavour palettes. Choosing between saffron and turmeric comes down to affordability and flavour preference, but one spice is not necessarily superior to the other.
However, saffron is far more versatile in the kitchen as it has both sweet and savoury notes while turmeric is more peppery. While saffron’s price point may be a deterrent against the spice, remember that a small amount of saffron goes a long way!
Can You Use Turmeric Instead Of Saffron In Paella?
Yes, you can! Turmeric is called the poor man’s saffron for a reason, but we wouldn’t necessarily call it a saffron substitute as the distinctive flavours are different.
Turmeric’s peppery flavour works well in paella and many savoury dishes that saffron would typically be used for. This doesn’t mean you should forget all about saffron in favour of the cheaper option that is turmeric as both have distinctly different flavour palettes and you won’t always prefer one over the other.
Power of Saffron and Turmeric together:
The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong with having both turmeric and saffron in your pantry. Just don’t limit yourself to only one!
Both spices offer different distinctive flavours and thus have different strengths in the kitchen. When cooking Indian food like curry dishes you will likely reach for the turmeric first. Most or any other cuisine, and saffron will be your go-to.
Not sure where to start? Our Ras-El-Hanout Spice Mix with Saffron blends the turmeric with saffron for a medley of antioxidants, probiotics and flavour.