Does Saffron go bad?
My mum has had some saffron in the pantry for...ten years...she thinks. She only uses it once or twice a year, but she's hesitant to throw it away considering how expensive it is.
So, does anyone know if and how long before saffron goes bad?
As long as it's kept in an airtight container that doesn't allow any light in, in an environment that has a relatively consistent temperature, it will last indefinitely. I bought a tin of saffron (about 60 dollars worth) about 5 years ago and it's still fresh and potent (have about a 1/3 of it left). If it's not as fresh and hasn't been stored properly, it can still be used, but you will just need to use more of it--but there is no sense in throwing it away! She should start using it in rice to use it up and then by fresh...
My family from the Middle East would often bring housegifts of saffron when visiting, far more than could be used in a year, let alone 2. The flavor dies down so as it ages, I have to use more of the saffron to bring out its flavor, but I've never noticed anything off about it.
I bought a few ounces of it for a ridiculously low price about five years ago in Saudi Arabia, of all places. I've kept it in the same airtight tin that it came in, on a shelf in the kitchen. It still seems OK. I used some the other day - the colour, smell and taste were all still there, although I probably used a little more than when it was younger.
Fresh saffron is certainly more potent. Saffron is indeed very expensive per gram. But per use, it's about the same price as more common spices. It takes so little to add flavor, that you really use ridiculously little. If it no longer adds a pleasant flavor - toss it. Most cookbooks recommend you only purchase as much of a spice as you'll use in a year, and toss it all at the end of the year. I don't know anyone who actually does that, but I don't suppose I would keep 10-year anything in my spice cupboard.