What Does Saffron Taste Like

What Does Saffron Taste Like? Is It Really Awful?

You’ve probably heard somewhere that saffron tastes and smells awful. But does it? Some have described it to be pungent. Others say it smells like flowers. So which is it? What does saffron taste like?


There’s a completely logical explanation for all the confusion surrounding the flavor and smell of saffron. Saffron is a spice that has a very unique taste and a distinct scent that not everyone can appreciate. It’s like how people feel about truffle. Some hate truffle, while others love it.

You may say that having a fondness for saffron is like having an innate and acquired taste for it. Some may find it weird and strange. But some might also come to like the uniqueness of such a spice. A term one can use to describe saffron would be magical. It’s unexplainable. But let’s still get down to the nitty-gritty details of what saffron tastes like.

No other spice can bring out such flavor than the one saffron brings to a dish. Saffron will taste sweet, but also bitter. It may smell floral, but also earthy. It can be used for savory dishes and also sweet desserts. It can taste strong but also heavenly.

So do you understand the confusion? Saffron is everything all at once. That’s why the secret to putting it into your dishes is to make sure you don’t put too much of it. Saffron will overpower your dish or dessert if you use a lot. Putting in just a pinch is always the best measurement.

A general recommendation in tasting saffron is to soak just a few strands of the spice to your warm milk. Add a pinch of sugar along with it and you’ll understand just how earthy the taste of saffron is but also heavenly to the smell and palate.

What is Saffron?

What is Saffron?

Saffron is the stigmas from the plant known as crocus sativus or the Rose of Saffron. What color is saffron spice? They are thin strands of red thread with their tips colored in yellow-orange. The darker the red color of the saffron is, the better the quality of its flavor and aroma. Also, the essential oil known as crocin, which contains antioxidants, is found in this type of spice.

Using saffron in your dishes depends on how much you’re making. But if you’re using it for a glass of warm milk, for instance, 2 to 3 strands of saffron will do. Let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes. You may also add sugar or honey just to sweeten the drink a little.

Where does saffron come from, you may wonder. The flower where saffron is found is commonly located in Spain, India, Iran, and Greece.

Why Is Saffron Expensive?

Is saffron expensive? Saffron costs $3,000 for 2 pounds because of the arduous labor that comes in acquiring this kind of spice.

Only 3 stigmas can be found in each crocus flower. Each flower takes one week each year to bloom. To harvest them, one must handpick the stigmas carefully. They are then dried to be distributed to consumers. One pound of saffron is equal to over 70,000 crocus flowers. Can you imagine just how much effort and care is given in dealing with this spice?

But you don’t exactly need a pound whenever you’re cooking with saffron. Remember that all you need is just a pinch to add to your dishes.

How To Use Saffron

You may have seen tips saying saffron can be sprinkled on top of food. But here are the best ways in using saffron to get the most out of its flavor:

1. Soak It In Liquid

One way to help bring out the flavor of saffron is to soak it in liquid. If you’re cooking soups, take a scoop of the soup out first and steep your saffron in it for approximately 10 to 20 minutes.

You’ll notice the aroma of saffron as it is soaking in your liquid base. That will be a clear indication that you may add the mixture into the rest of your soup. You may also do this in wine or milk if you’re cooking with these ingredients.

Some may just simply toss a few strands of saffron into soups which is also the correct way of using saffron. However, you’ll have a more distinct saffron flavor when you steep it for a few minutes in a small portion of your mixture first.

2. Crush And Soak

Saffron is very fragile. It is frail to the touch, so you may crumble saffron between your fingers or use a mortar and pestle. After crushing them, you may then add the powdered saffron to your dishes.

3. Toast

Toasting saffron in a skillet is also another way of bringing out the flavor of saffron. Just make sure your skillet is dry when toasting this spice and to move it around, so it doesn’t get burnt.

What Is Saffron Used For?

What Is Saffron Used For?
  • Risotto – Add saffron to your risotto to make the dish more fragrant. This is best soaked in wine before cooking it in your dish.
  • Pudding – Who said saffron can only be used in savory dishes? Add saffron and cardamom to your rice pudding to make authentic Persian Shole Zard.
  • Paella – Liven up the taste and add color to your Spanish paella with saffron. Just ¼ tsp. of saffron threads is enough for paella that’s good for 2.
  • Ice Cream – Just like with your rice pudding, you can add saffron and cardamom to heavy cream and make it into Persian ice cream.
  • Bouillabaisse – Making the perfect bouillabaisse? Then you better have saffron in stock to make this smell and taste authentic. Put about ½ tsp. of saffron threads if you’re making this French fish stew that fits 4 servings.

If you still think saffron is awful, then you just have to try it. The flavor might convince you otherwise. You’ll also know the answer to what does saffron taste like and you might even end up appreciating the uniqueness of this spice.

With saffron, you’ll be able to make authentic Indian, Persian and Spanish cuisines easily from now on.

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