The Dos and Don’ts of Cooking with Saffron
Saffron is a magical spice that can add a lot of flavour and nutrients to your food and life – but only when it is prepared the right way. As the most expensive spice in the world, you want to be sure you are preparing your saffron for food using the correct methods and quantities so that you don’t waste any. A lot of work goes into handpicking the saffron crocus sativus and we’re sure you don’t want to waste your money either, so, let’s get into the dos and don’ts of cooking with saffron.
DO prepare your saffron to release flavour using the right methods
Like many spices, saffron requires an extra step to release its colour and flavour before adding it to your meal. The traditional and most effective way to prepare your saffron is to grind the threads into saffron powder. Spices like pepper, cumin and cinnamon all come ready ground, but for a spice as delicate as saffron it’s always better to do it yourself so that you are getting the most out of the flavour and colour. Using a mortar and pestle is the best way to quickly grind your saffron into powder before you soak the saffron in warm water to infuse.
DO add your saffron early in the cooking process
Saffron needs time to infuse its flavour. Adding saffron as early as possible to your dish will ensure you get the best aromatic experience.
DO marry saffron with complimenting herbs
Saffron’s flavour is absolutely divine, but it’s even better when paired with the right herbs! Saffron pairings include cilantro, basil and rosemary in savoury dishes and cinnamon or vanilla in desserts.
DO measure your saffron correctly
If a recipe says you only need a pinch of saffron, it’s best to listen! Saffron is a very aromatic spice and a little goes a long way. Ditch the measuring spoons and use kitchen scales or count the threads out instead so that you can be confident you are using the right amount.
DO learn what quality saffron should look like
Due to saffron’s worth, there are a lot of adultered versions of saffron available in the market. Saffron threads should be deep red, have the same shape as each other, be completely dried and have a pleasant aroma.
DON’T purchase saffron in high quantities
If not stored correctly or not used within six months, it is likely that your saffron threads will lose their flavour, colour and aroma. Given the price and shelf life of saffron, it is best to purchase smaller quantities so that none goes to waste.
AVOID purchasing saffron powder
Saffron threads last much longer than the powdered form. Plus, the powder is so easy to make!
DON’T mix saffron in with a lot of overpowering ingredients
Saffron flavour pairing is a fine art. Saffron’s flavour is actually quite mild and can get lost in a dish filled with other overpowering favours. There are spices that go with saffron, you just have to make sure they are the right ones. Lightly season your dish so that the saffron flavour can remain at the forefront of the flavour profile.
DON’T overuse saffron
Not only is too much saffron a waste of money, but it can also ruin the flavour of your dish. Excessive saffron can become so bitter that it can make even your saffron rice taste like chlorine- yuck!