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What do do with a lot of saffron?

flubber2012 Feb 22, 2012 07:53 AM


I apologize if this was covered in another thread...I did a search and no joy.

I have a lot (I would say 20-30 times the amount that you buy in a bottle of Spice Islands at the grocery store) of older saffron (maybe 2-3 years old...unopened) that I found in my cupboard...way too much to use in risotto or boulabaisse or aioli.

Any other ideas?


  1. ChrisOfStumptown Jan 18, 2014 08:54 PM

    It hardly counts as a recipe but saffron water is pretty good, especially mineral water.

    I'm drinking a San Pelligino lemon soda mixed with saffron mineral water. It's outstanding.

    1. p
      pitterpatter Feb 24, 2012 02:07 PM

      I buy my saffron by the ounce, and have never had a problem with keeping it in the freezer. I give clumps of it to friends, and an ounce lasts me for a couple of years. I use it in stews basically every week, as I cook a stew every weekend.

      1. Caitlin McGrath Feb 23, 2012 10:41 AM

        Saffron-pistachio shortbread cookies are really good: http://www.chow.com/recipes/29683-saf...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Caitlin McGrath
          rose water Feb 23, 2012 02:00 PM

          Wow, that sounds delicious! As did your cake. Inspired...

          1. re: rose water
            HillJ Feb 24, 2012 05:20 AM

            I'm going to try both of Caitlin's rec's. We rec'd saffron @ Christmas and haven't used any of it YET.

        2. mamachef Feb 23, 2012 09:44 AM

          You can take a quart container of best-quality plain yogurt, and line a strainer w/ cheesecloth (2 layers) or coffee filters, set it over a bowl, and put the yogurt in. Let it drain in the fridge overnight. Now, warm a T. milk in the microwave and add 1 t. crushed saffron and let it steep for half an hour. Strain it, and stir in 6 T. plain sugar and a half-cup of crushed pistachios. Serve it to 6-8 people for dessert. I totally can't remember the name of it, but I believe the origin is Indian, and it's a very beautiful, creamy rich subtle dessert.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mamachef
            CanadaGirl Feb 23, 2012 10:31 AM

            It's called "shrikhand". I posted a link to a recipe above that is very similar to yours :)

            1. re: CanadaGirl
              mamachef Feb 23, 2012 02:09 PM

              I didn't see that!! Sorry to copycat you. I have some bad habits and jumping in without prior investigation is one of them. But now I know the name, and thank you for that!!

              1. re: mamachef
                CanadaGirl Feb 23, 2012 05:12 PM

                Oh, the copycatting doesn't bother me - great minds and all! I just wanted to let you know the name since you forgot :)

          2. Caroline1 Feb 23, 2012 06:38 AM

            If you know any Bhuddhist monks, you could dye a new robe for one of them.

            Kidding aside, If you just found it and it's not just sitting there open, use it at your normal pace but close it tight when through, put it in a zip lock bag, get all of the air out and toss it in the freezer between uses. If you hae a vacuum sealer, so much the better. This is how I keep all of my really special/expensive/hard-to-find spices and such. I have a nice stash of frozen dried morels. And other stuff.

            1. l
              lidia Feb 23, 2012 06:23 AM

              For lunch, I just finished off the leftovers of a pasta dish that calls for saffron: cooked cauliflower, garlic, some tomato paste, hot pepper anchovies and saffron. Abundant olive oil. I got the recipe from "Papa Andrea's Sicilian Table". You can also do a version with raisins (I prefer currants) and pine nuts, and onion instead of garlic, as shown here: http://nerodiseppiaenglish.wordpress....

              In the second version link ingredients, a "bag" of saffron is a tiny pouch of powered saffron as sold in Italian supermarkets, but would translate to a pinch of real saffron (1/4-1/8 tsp.) softened in a small amt. of warm water (add the water, too).

              1. w
                wyogal Feb 23, 2012 06:05 AM

                Did you watch Top Chef? You could use it to garnish meatballs....... hahahahahaha! (no, no, no)

                2 Replies
                1. re: wyogal
                  DGresh Feb 23, 2012 07:46 AM

                  I think that was "Worst Cooks" (deservedly) :)

                  1. re: DGresh
                    wyogal Feb 23, 2012 07:49 AM

                    OMG, of course!!!! I watched that right after catching the end of TC. ha!

                2. Indirect Heat Feb 23, 2012 05:58 AM

                  Shakshuka. We make this frequently, because it's quick to make and delicious. It's essentially a stew with tomatoes and herbs, and at the end you fry some eggs on the surface of the stew. Totally awesome.


                  1. r
                    Roland Parker Feb 23, 2012 04:43 AM

                    Do you actually have real saffron? It's very unusual for saffron to be sold in large quantities and just about any "saffron" sold in these quantities are safflower, which look like saffron and produce the color saffron does but doesn't have the flavor. If someone brought you the saffron as a gift from a trip overseas, especially from an "authentic" souk/bazaar/marketplace, odds are it's the fake stuff, not real saffron.

                    I've travelled and shopped widely and I've only ever seen real saffron sold in tiny amounts.

                    Test the saffron first before you do anything with it. Dilute a few strands in a small amount of warm milk for at least ten minutes. Then taste. Are you getting a saffron flavor? Or just the dye?

                    Very high quality saffron will dye slowly, so a milk or water test will see the liquid slowly deepen in color, whereas fake saffron or lower grade saffron mixed with fake safflower often dies the liquid immediately.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Roland Parker
                      flubber2012 Feb 24, 2012 02:36 AM

                      Great tip. My parents brought home a fairly large amount from, I think Spain. I could be fake. I'll test as you recommend. If it's junk, it "solves" my problem.

                      Many thanks to all the other posters for the great ideas and recipes.

                      1. re: Roland Parker
                        coll Feb 24, 2012 03:10 AM

                        I've been wondering since I first saw this: What do you mean by "tiny amounts" or "large amounts"? I buy it by the ounce, when it comes to saffron that's a large quantity I think. Mine is Spanish and usually comes in a tin, with a seal stating so. I'm not an expert, but before I paid close to $100 I researched a bit. Good to know about the dye test, not that I'm going to waste any of mine at this point!

                        1. re: coll
                          Roland Parker Feb 26, 2012 04:07 AM

                          Saffron is usually sold in small containers, usually tin or plastic, approximately the size of a small bar of soap. The container will open to reveal an even smaller plastic bag containing the shreds of saffron.

                          It's when I see/hear about a bag packed with saffron that I begin to doubt its authenticity. The largest amount of real saffron I've seen in one container for sale was about half a cup's worth of saffron and yes, it was quite expensive. The spice bazaars of the Middle East will feature open baskets filled with mounds of "saffron" that's passed off to unsuspecting tourists as "real" saffron whereas it's merely safflower. Anyone who gives you a plastic sack packed with saffron was duped somewhere and is giving you safflower. Real saffron sells for hundreds and hundreds of dollars per ounce...

                          1. re: Roland Parker
                            DGresh Feb 26, 2012 06:51 AM

                            Yeah, some friends brought me a bag of "saffron" that they'd bought somewhere overseas. It was the size of thick paperback book. I never believed it was actually saffron! I recall it didn't have much scent, though it did look like the stuff.

                        2. re: Roland Parker
                          Caroline1 Jan 19, 2014 04:45 PM

                          Roland, you can buy premium saffron in larger quantities. The greater the volume you buy, the less you pay per gram. My last purchase was for 14 grams. And yes, it's for-real Spanish "Castilla-La Mancha" super premium grade, and all that jazz. I keep about a gram of it in the little storage box a previous purchase came in, now wrapped and sealed in foil. The other 13 grams are in a hermetically sealed jar in "sous vide" plastic and stored in the freezer, the ultimate "dark cool place." I have enough I could probably dye robes for an entire Buddhist monastery! On the other hand, when a dish that requires saffron strikes my fancy, I'm ready! Check out amazon.com. You'll find a wide selection for both quality and quantity.

                        3. m
                          malabargold Feb 22, 2012 08:21 PM

                          No rush it keeps fine tightly sealed. I always buy in large quantities - about once every two years.

                          1. q
                            Querencia Feb 22, 2012 04:29 PM

                            Chowhound makes me commit the sin of envy re posts like "I have a big pile of saffron" and "I have 15 pounds of marzipan in my freezer" (that one was yesterday) and my favorite, "I have a huge tree full of giant ripe mangos, oh dear, whatever shall I do".

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Querencia
                              coll Feb 23, 2012 02:35 AM

                              I know what you mean! So funny.

                              1. re: coll
                                pine time Feb 23, 2012 09:19 AM

                                Sin of Envy is alive and well in the Pine household. I'm greedy and pea green with envy.

                            2. Will Owen Feb 22, 2012 04:11 PM

                              You didn't mention if it was ground or in its original threads. If ground it's probably on its way out or dead; if threads, just keep it well sealed in a cool dark place, and it will last a long, long time. The Christmas after we moved here in 2000, my father-in-law gave me an ounce or so of Spanish saffron, packed in a little zip-lock bag inside of a metal tin. I use maybe five pinches a year, and it's still about as potent as when my now-long-gone FIL gave it to me. It might even outlive me!

                              As to what I use it for, my favorite thing is a stew of salt or fresh cod with potatoes, tomatoes, onion and olives, cooked in olive oil then with some water and about a cup of white wine with the saffron steeped in it, and a bit of smoked paprika as well. But another of papa's legacies was a big De Buyer paella pan, so I guess that's on the agenda, too …

                              1. c
                                CanadaGirl Feb 22, 2012 01:03 PM

                                I love an Indian yogurt dish with saffron and pistachios. This version looks good: http://saveur.com/article/Recipes/Shr...

                                I usually use Greek yogurt instead of draining my own.

                                1. s
                                  shallots Feb 22, 2012 12:43 PM

                                  Do you have Swedish friends?

                                  One of the most appreciated Christmas presents I ever gave was a jar of my home grown Saffron to a friend whose budget was hurting in November. So as soon as my harvest dried I gave it all to her. It meant more to her than to me as it wasn't a part of my heritage.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: shallots
                                    Pedr0 Feb 22, 2012 12:56 PM



                                    Ate and made a lot of these around x-mas when I lived in Sweden. So good!

                                    1. re: shallots
                                      BananaBirkLarsen Feb 22, 2012 12:59 PM

                                      This makes me think of the Santa Lucia buns I make every Christmas (I'm not Swedish, but I read about these when I was a kid and have been making them ever since). I use the recipe in the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, posted here: http://books.google.com/books?id=rolu...

                                    2. Caitlin McGrath Feb 22, 2012 11:13 AM

                                      Saffron almond cake: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/almon...

                                      The version of that recipe I used a couple of weeks ago actually called for twice as much (1 tsp.) saffron. Really good cake. The recipe works well baked in a 10-cup bundt pan instead of two 8-inch pans.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                        coll Feb 23, 2012 02:37 AM

                                        I am really into bundt cakes lately, and this sounds like a winner! I would call it Orange Almond cake and let them try to guess the secret ingredient.

                                        1. re: coll
                                          Caitlin McGrath Feb 23, 2012 10:39 AM

                                          The chief flavor is definitely saffron, especially if you use the full teaspoon. The almond is in the background. My saffron-loving friends adored it.

                                        2. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                          pine time Feb 23, 2012 09:17 AM

                                          Oh, thanks, Caitlin. Must. Make. This.

                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                            epex2005 Sep 9, 2013 11:48 AM

                                            I would definitely try it, Saffron Chocolate Brownie is also good.

                                          2. r
                                            ratgirlagogo Feb 22, 2012 08:37 AM

                                            Send some to me:)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo
                                              cgarner Feb 22, 2012 09:04 AM

                                              or me! and I'll even invite you over for dinner!

                                              1. re: cgarner
                                                pine time Feb 23, 2012 09:16 AM

                                                Hey, I had dibs, upthread :)

                                            2. r
                                              rjbh20 Feb 22, 2012 08:30 AM

                                              Large quantities of risotto alla Milanese, with the leftovers turned into arancini.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: rjbh20
                                                njmarshall55 Feb 23, 2012 02:12 PM

                                                +1 on that one!

                                                1. re: njmarshall55
                                                  hungryinmanhattan Jan 19, 2014 05:07 PM

                                                  That's what I was going to say :-)

                                              2. p
                                                pine time Feb 22, 2012 08:21 AM

                                                Lots and lots of saffron caramels.
                                                Or just mail it to me.

                                                1. d
                                                  DGresh Feb 22, 2012 08:05 AM

                                                  persian rice with saffron

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: DGresh
                                                    rose water Feb 22, 2012 08:36 AM

                                                    yep, and persian rice pudding, and persian caramels (check out recipes for sohan asali)

                                                    1. re: DGresh
                                                      epex2005 Sep 9, 2013 11:47 AM

                                                      My favorite recipe, easy and tasty

                                                    2. w
                                                      wyogal Feb 22, 2012 07:56 AM

                                                      Or, use it to dye eggs, or fabric...

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: wyogal
                                                        Pedr0 Feb 22, 2012 08:04 AM


                                                        1. re: wyogal
                                                          epex2005 Sep 9, 2013 11:47 AM

                                                          Great idea ;)

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