Saffron

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by mrmexico25, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. mrmexico25

    mrmexico25

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    What hell can I use this with?  I know it's pretty damn expensive and I've seen it used sparingly on Food Network in oils and pastas, but is that all?  And is it even worth it?

    I don't want to drop $75.00 an ounce if I'm not going to notice a difference - or use it incorrectly.
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Some of its more classic uses are with rice in paella and risotto. Those are good starting points.
     
  3. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Also tajines, where it's almost de rigeur. It's also commonly used in Mideastern and Indian cookery.

    Saffron does have a unique flavor. But, frankly, in the amounts it's often used, it provides more color than taste. And if all you're looking for is the color, tumeric does the same job.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  4. mrmexico25

    mrmexico25

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    thanks.  haha yea I would drop that kind of money just for color purposes lol.  Turmeric will work /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Everyone has to make their own decisions, MrMexico.

    Yeah, it's expensive. But do you know how much, volume wise, an ounce of saffron is? It almost fills a round can 6 1/2 inches in diamter by 1 1/2 inches deep.

    When it's truly called for, nothing else substitutes.

    You might enter saffron in the seach box, too. We've had several discussions about its use and availability, and you might gain insights from them.
     
  6. durangojo

    durangojo

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    are you in mexico mrmexico or just an aficionado of mexican cuisine? whichever, are you familiar with annatto? it's widely used in mexican and other latin and caribbean cooking to add color(very yellow) and flavor....to me it's kinda the mexican answer to saffron...kinda....if you're looking just to add color to a dish i would use annatto or as ky suggests, tumeric. if you don't think you will use saffron much and it will just sit on your shelf, you might want to pass on it as it's pricey, but imo, there is absolutely no substitute for the real deal..period..it just has this great  balance of earthy smell and taste of dirt to me....but if you didn't like eating mud pies as a kid, well maybe it's not for you...or hopefully like cialntro, it wil grow on you....

    joey
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  7. mrmexico25

    mrmexico25

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    @durango:  No I'm not in Mexico, close though (Texas).  I'm half Mexican and love the cuisine but not a specialist.  As a matter of fact, I rarely cook Mexican style food. 
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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     simply buy a small amount at a grocery store

    Yeah, you could do that. But it's an incredibly expensive way to go. Last time I looked, a couple of years ago, one of those little tubes, coming in at something like .1 grams, was $12. That translates at $342/ounce. And it wasn't very good saffron at that, having a large proportion of yellow tendrils.

    If you want to learn more than you ever cared to about saffron, check out http://www.saffron.com/. And, while you're there, take a look at their prices. You can buy a full gram of top-rated Iranian saffron for six bucks.
     
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  9. french fries

    french fries

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    I do have to agree that I usually use a bit more than the "3 threads" recommended in some recipes. More like 12-15 threads, a.k.a. a good pinch or two. But then it definitely provides a great amount of very unique flavor, which I personally love. I bought for $50 worth from http://www.saffron.com/ and regularly cook with saffron: paella is on the table tonight, and I often make tajines and couscous, all of which have saffron. I absolutely LOVE the flavor of saffron and I would never mistake it for anything else, certainly not turmeric. But like I said, I use a bit more than is usually detailed in the recipe. I feel like my $50 is going to last me at least one or two years, maybe more. If you buy it from the store, you're paying more for lesser quality. 

    A lot of northern african recipe will typically specify: use fake-saffron or turmeric "for color" AND use some real saffron for flavor. I sometimes do that. 
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  10. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    A lot of northern african recipe will typically specify: use fake-saffron or turmeric "for color" AND use some real saffron for flavor. I sometimes do that. 

    You know, I've heard several TV chefs give that sort of advice, but have never actually seen it phrased that way in a North African recipe.

    My attitude is, if I'm using real saffron anyway, it will provide the color, and may as well use enough to provide the distinct flavor as well. And at Saffron.Com's prices and quality, I can afford to use a good pinch of the stuff.
     
  11. french fries

    french fries

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    I've never heard that on TV. However, my family being originated from North Africa, I've seen it phrased this way in a lot of the handwritten recipes handed down from my grand mother. 


    I use a good pinch of the stuff as well, then add a bit of turmeric if I want even more color. :)
     
  12. chef oliver

    chef oliver

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    Most the time you cannot substitute saffron with turmeric, because of their own distinctive flavours. Even if you use pinch of turmeric, you will smell and taste that spice in food. I love turmeric as well as I love saffron, but for example to dishes like paella or bouillabaise you should use pure saffron.
     
  13. benway

    benway

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    KY, I've always loved your advice for its frankness and counter-snob demeanor and I agree with you here too.

    Saffron is the most expensive food in the world and because of this many will tell you that there is no substitute.  I can't say I'm a fan of tumeric, might as well use food coloring the stuff is so bland, but saffron flavor isn't a whole ton stronger... especially using spanish or italian stuff.  There is a lot to be gained in both flavor and color from buying Iranian.  I made a thread on this within the year that had some really good discussion on it after I found some super-cheap Iranian saffron that was packaged with the floral waste.

    In the right dishes saffron is pretty special though and it doesn't take more than a fat pinch to make the difference.  To answer the OP's question I'd say its worth it.
     
  14. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    With Saffron, it can have a powerful taste (almost medicinal) if its not used right.

    But some of the nicest dishes have been made with it. Lobster tail or a  shrimp saffron risotto with a pistou (basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, grated parm. s&p) .

    It can add a delicate  flavor and  emit wonderful color,  especially the Iranian.

    Petals.
     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    FWIW, the saffron from Vanilla Saffron Imports, aka Golden Gate, aka www.saffron.com, is Afghani and not Iranian.  I believe there are too many governmental obstacles to make importing Iranian saffron to the US. worthwhile -- if it's even possible.  No matter where it's from, if it's not the best I've ever used, it's at least tied.

    In terms of substitutes, I prefer annatto to turmeric.  Nothing against turmeric but it has a more definite effect on the way a dish tastes than annatto.  Interesting because annatto actually has more of its own taste.  Turmeric seems to act as a booster for some flavors, but not for others -- and sort of skews the taste.  I like to use achiote paste, an annatto derivative, too.  I use achiote and turmeric for themselves when doing Caribbean, Middle Eastern, or South Asian food.  Considering Vanilla Saffron Imports' prices and quality, there's no need (for me anyway, ymmv) to seek a substitute. 

    BDL 
     
  16. margcata

    margcata Banned

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    From: Margcata.

    Firstly, it is predominately used here in Spain in Paellas and Alicantine rice dishes with shellfish or Catalonian seafood rices. Wow, you overpaid for exporting !  ( it is pricey, however not that pricey ).

    Azafrán or saffron grows in the hill country of Toledo ...

    Perhaps you could enquire with www.foodsandwinesofspain.com or www.latienda.com

    for a better price or look for a Toledo importer.
     
  17. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Vanilla Saffron's saffron is both substantially better and lower priced than La Tienda's.  You'll have to either try it or take my word for it when comes to quality, but La Tienda prices 1oz of best saffron (coupe grade?) at $265 while Golden Gate charges $80 for saffron with a ridiculously high ISO. 

    VS vanilla is very good for quality and price, too. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  18. mrmexico25

    mrmexico25

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    There's a lot of really good ideas and uses for it!  Thanks guys you've really cleared things up!
     
  19. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Full disclosure note: Neither BDL nor myself are in any way associated with Vanilla Saffron Imports---except as very satisfied customers.

    a ridiculously high ISO. 

    To say the least. ISO minimum for Category 1 (the highest ranked) saffron color is 190. My last batch from them scored 240. Flavor minimum is ISO 70. Mine went 85. Minimum for aroma is 20. Mine topped 36.

    This is good stuff, people, and you're not going to find better prices anywhere.
     
  20. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    La Tienda prices 1oz of best saffron (coupe grade?)

    La Tienda identifies its 1 oz tin as Category 1. Spain uses its own national standards, but they exactly echo the ISO scale (except at the very bottom). So it's certainly top quality saffron. But, OMG, look at the price.