Saffron is often used as is or ground into coarse or fine powder. Among the two, the latter is much easier to use. Thereby, this is much more preferred by Iranian culinary experts. To transform the threads of the spice into its powder form, they use a mortar and pestle to crush the threads.
The resulting powder can easily be diluted in warm liquid or water, ready to be infused in the dishes being prepared. However, in order to come up with the best saffron powder, you need to get some quality saffron threads. Below are some of the things that you need to consider in buying saffron threads.
- Colour. Saffron threads have a deep red colour, sometimes with a hint of bold yellow. Be wary of strands which have the same exact redness from end to end because these may have been dyed. Rather, look for threads which have a vivid red colour, with an orange-red fluted tip. This is the genuine saffron thread that you are after. More often than not, a dull red colour is a sign that the spice is authentic, but it is an old stock.
- Texture. Look for saffron threads that are dry and brittle. If the strands are rather soft and sticky, you may not be looking at the authentic legendary spice
- Aroma. Saffron has a potent, earthy smell, even with hints of floral, citrus and honey. A musty smell is often an indication that chemicals may have been added into it. Thereby, it is best to steer clear from this fake version because it may cause harm to your health when you ingest it.
- Size and Shape. The threads of genuine saffron must have a uniform shape. Several small and broken pieces indicate that you may be looking at a fake saffron spice.
- Cuts. To ensure that you get premium quality saffron threads, it pays to have a good insight on its cuts. Hence, look for threads that contain only the vivid part of the stigmas wherein the yellow style is removed. This is known as the coupé saffron, or the highest quality saffron thread. Those with a little or more of the yellow style indicates a lower quality saffron thread because the style doesn’t give much flavour at all.
Additional Note: Keep in mind that safflower is not the same as saffron. The dried petals of this thistle-like plant are often sold as saffron but it doesn’t match the properties and characteristics that a true saffron spice has.
In conclusion, make sure that you scrutinize the colour, texture, and aroma of the saffron thread that you are keen in buying. In addition to this, be observant of its shape and size too. Only when you have high quality saffron threads will you be able to come up with the finest saffron powder that can do wonders to your dishes. Otherwise, you also have the option of buying ready-made saffron powder. Just make sure that you purchase from reliable and reputable manufacturers and distributors.