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Is this saffron?

Hello, I posted this end of last year and still haven't figure out what exactly this is. A friend brought this back from Iran, his family lives there...I have attached better photos and I included the writting on the plastic bag it came in.

Hope someone can let me know if it is real and if not what it is...maybe some will recognize the writing???

Thanks everyone!

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  1. here's the other photo

    1. Can't read the writing, but the photo looks a lot more like sumac than saffron. OTOH, it could be safflower: http://www.aliexpress.com/organic-saf...

      1. Looks more safflower-y. Saffron is more fthread-like.

        1. Not sure What it is but agreed it's not saffron

          1 Reply
          1. re: Siegal

            Too bad if it's not.
            Iranian saffron is touted as being the best in the world...miles above the oft adulterated Spanish saffron commonly sold.

          2. It doesn't look like saffron to me either, but I don't know of course. Have you tried tasting it? Saute a tiny amount in oil and dip bread into it. Saffron has a very distinct taste. Safflower adds a nice color, but doesn't taste like much. If it's sumac you don't even have to cook it to know - it's very lemony.

            1. I don't think it's saffron, but I'd use it just the same.
              Cook some rice steeped in it and see what happens.

              1. It's not sumac. Sumac is a round berry that's dried and ground for use, and isn't the shape of the long pieces in your photo (which I agree don't look fine enough to be saffron).

                1. Hmmmm. This looks A LOT like a spice I bought in QingHai. I was lead to believe that it was in the saffron family but not "true" saffron.
                  I found the flavour to be less intense than saffron (use more) but the computing properties to be stronger (use less).
                  I'll go look up old info.

                  EDIT: added a pic
                  Also, look here:

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Kris in Beijing

                    Hello kris, yes it does look similar. I think this is it. I knew it was not traditional saffron but could not figure out what it was. Thanks!

                    1. re: Kris in Beijing

                      forgot to ask, how do you use it. Do you bloom it in water? If so, what ratio? Also, I bloomed some and left it in the refrigeratore and after several weeks I noted that the colour was gone..and there was this white sidment in the bottom...thanks

                      1. re: heylids

                        Now I use it almost exclusively in rice, I bloom it in 1C of not-cold water for maybe 10mins before using that as water to cook the rice in my rice cooker. At the end, strands are usually sitting on top of the rice.

                        Whilst still in China, it wasn't too hard to find, both in the upscale restaurateur and the street stall variety markets. I used it shamelessly then -- stir in a few threads to cole slaw, add a sprinkle to sausage for Bao's or in scrambled eggs, top the yolk on the egg for a ramen, mashed potatoes...

                        Kris now in DC/NoVA

                      2. Thank you everyone, your thoughts were appreciated and helpful. I think Kris may have found what this maybe.
                        I hope someone will come along and know what the writing means.

                        As for sumac and safflower, it difinitely isn't either, it's not lemon and safflower looks like dried petals.

                        Again, thank you fellow chowhounds!

                        1. It's safflower. That's how they cut it to make it look like saffron.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: JMF

                            The pictures I've seen of safflower seem more petal like. Why are you thinking it is safflower?

                            1. re: heylids

                              Because I've seen safflower cut exactly like in that photo. Somewhere I even have some of that stuff, labeled saffron, bought at the Zanzibar airport. I knew it wasn't real, but got it anyway.

                              I may be wrong in this case, but...

                            2. re: JMF

                              The safflower l purchased in Hungary, labeled saffron, is very thin threads of two colors, one yellow, one the red-orange of all these pictures, thus two toned.

                            3. زعفران - saffron

                              The label says saffron but it's not.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: chilibeanpaste

                                Thank you, I thought it was saffron but your right it isn't. The odd thing is it doesn't turn yellow, it's more of a washed out week odd pinkish colour. And the threads are very hard and they turn white after blooming for a while.

                                1. I would probably just not eat it. It may not even be edible as the seller is clearly not reputable I would be careful