★ What is SAFFRON? | Recipes for Saffron Desserts & Meals ★
Find Out About Saffron Plus Great Recipe Ideas
Saffron is a spice which is used as a dye for textiles as well as lending it's signature golden yellow colour to many different meals and desserts.
I have written a brief summary of what saffron is on this page, as well as compiling a list of inspiring recipes which include saffron (in the form of powder or threads) as a star ingredient.
I hope you find this page interesting and useful :-)
Saffron Crocus Flower
Saffron is a spice harvested from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). The central stigmas of the flower are the parts that are collected, and these are then dried.
In cookery, the dried saffron is added to foods as a unique taste and as a coloring - it turns foods a very distinctive sunshine yellow which is difficult to replicate with other colorants.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world (by weight) and can cost £3000 per lb, with saffron being available at different grades representing different quality, with the higher grades obviously being the most expensive. The good news is that it is only used in very small amounts when cooking, so a little can go a long way. The price therefore shouldn't put you off using the spice at home.
The reason for the cost is the difficulty and the time consuming nature of removing the saffron threads (stigmas) from the flowers by hand, as well as the fact that the flowers actually only bloom for one month a year so supply is limited. It takes around 85,000 flowers to supply 1 kilo of threads!
A Selection Of The Best Saffron Threads
Saffron is harvested from the fields as you can see in the photo above. About 300 tons of saffron is harvested per year in many countries including Iran, Spain, India, Morocco, Azerbaijan and Italy, with Iran being by far the main producer.
'Coupe' refers to the highest grade (quality) of saffron you can buy, and out of the total amount harvested each year, about 50 tons is coupe. If you would like information on buying saffron, including approximate prices and other interesting facts, click here.
And to learn more about saffron's 3000 year history, please click here.
You will find saffron available in two forms; as a powder and as dried 'threads', and both are used to add flavoring and a golden yellow color to food, especially in Iranian, Spanish, Indian, Turkish, Asian and Morrocan cuisines.
- Information source - click if you would like to read more.
Saffron in the Marketplace
This is a spice selling stall in Tunisia which is selling both saffron threads ('pestiles') and powder.
You can of course try both the powder and the threads in your food to see which you like best, however chefs seem to recommend the threads as much better quality. Make sure the powder is high-colouring strength for a better result. To use the powdered saffron option, make sure it is high coloring strength (for a better result), and all you need to do is add it directly to the food like you do with other spice powders. With saffron threads however, a bit more preparation needs to be done to release the flavor and color into the food without leaving the strands in the final meal. You will need to immerse the threads first in an acidic, alcoholic or hot liquid for several minutes - the recipe should say how long to do this for.
Grade I (coupe) is the best, and therefore most expensive grade of saffron.
Click here for excellent information on saffron from an expert's perspective.
Recipes Using Saffron
Please Note: Try not to put too much saffron in your dishes because this will cause your food to taste soapy.
- Saffron and Balsamic Lamb Rump
Very yummy recipe with added anchovies and bacon.
- Saffron Rice
A classic recipe to get you started.
- Food Gawker
Mouth-watering photo gallery of saffron recipes.
- Good Food Recipes
A list of all recipes that use saffron on this popular online website.
- Taste Spotting
Pages of really beautiful food.
- Saffron Paella
Using saffron threads.
- Chicken with Yellow Rice
A yummy comfort meal to fill you up.
- Saffron Poached Pears
With spiced madeleines and lime syrup.
Saffron Yoghurt Mousse
More Recipes Featuring Saffron
- Chicken Scallopine
With a Saffron cream sauce.
- Saffron Risotto
With Parmesan crisps.
- Poached Saffron Pears
An amazing looking dessert with high ratings.
- Saffron Pasta
How to include saffron within the pasta mix.
- Lobster Ravioli
In lemon butter with saffron.
- Saffron Macarons
An unusual and impressive use of saffron.
- Saffron Cookies
A simple treat with an aromatic twist.
- Saffron Easter Chicks
Cute treats made by piping meringue shapes.
Top Books About Herbs & Spices
Saffron Cooking Videos
Impressive Recipes with Added Saffron Spice
- Saffron Ice-Cream
Recipe by Nigella Lawson.
- Saffron and Olive Oil Cake
An unusual combination of flavours to try.
- Scallops with Saffron Sauce
Quite a common combination.
- Serious Eats
Including recipes for soups, breads and cookies.
- 80+ Saffron Recipes
Butter scallops, quick paella, chicken tagine and more.
- Chicken Curry with Saffron
With simple, easy-to-find ingredients.
- Parsley & Saffron Potatoes
Very simple recipe for a yummy meal accompaniment.
- Indian Lamb Biryani
Curry with saffron rice and a raita.
- Honey & Saffron Almond Candy
Colourful and tasty treat known as Sohan Asali.
Cod in Saffron Sauce
Classic Saffron Foods
- Cornish Saffron Cake
Tasty golden yellow regional specialty.
- Saffron Buns
A traditional Swedish recipe.
- Paella Valenciana
Classic Spanish cuisine.
- Fabada Asturiana
A healthy and hearty Spanish bean stew.
- French Bouillabaisse
Saffron-soaked clams bouillabaisse.
- Risotto alla Milanese
Classic saffron rice risotto.
- Chicken Kebab
Iranian BBQ kebabs with saffon.
- Moroccan Meatballs
Ground beef 'kefta' meatballs with saffron rice.
- Gulab Jamun
Sweet Indian treats.