saffron - where to get it?
- anno Nov 6, 2003 12:54 PM
i've recently been delving into herbs and spices a bit more than usaul... i had some rice with saffron in it a little while ago and it was SO AMAZING - so I decided that I wanted to pick some up. I always knew that it was the most expensive spice, but holy! Does anyone know where I can get GOOD saffron cheap? In the downtown core??
Any help is VERY appreciated.
There's no such thing as cheap good-quality saffron. If you find a cheap package, chances are that it's adulterated with crap such as safflower.
Also, you never know how long the saffron has been sitting in the store, exposed to the harsh lighting of the store. Like anything else, saffron will lose its potency over time. Go to a reputable store with good quality control and high turnover.
Saffron is expensive, but fortunately, a tiny bit goes a long way (and anyway, if you use too much, your food will taste medicinal). And don't get the ground stuff!
Now, where to get saffron in Toronto? It really helps if a store offers several varieties of saffron; it's a sign that the store knows what it's doing. Scheffler's Deli in the St. Lawrence Market (south market, upstairs, east wall), for instance, carries a selection: Iranian ($4.99 for 1 gram), Spanish ($3.49 for 1 gram), and Italian ($10.99 for 1 gram). They also carry ground Spanish saffron for $2.99 for 0.4 gram, but you don't want to go there. Find out which saffron you want for the dish you're making.
The Cheese Boutique, although it's located outside the downtown core, also carried a variety of saffron the last time I checked.
You might want to check the Indian markets as well.
You will need to know what good quality saffron looks like.
It is in fine strands short slender,slightly curled and dark rich red,
If there is anything else in the package, it has been altered.(I have seen far too many altered saffron)
I was given a gift of Indian saffron which I found every bit as good as the Spanish, and I am sure much cheaper.
For a second choice I find Spanish my favourite.
Turmeric used to be called "Indian saffron" back in medieval times. These days, there are unscrupulous merchants who try to pass off turmeric as "Indian saffron", due to turmeric's similar appearance to saffron.
Real Indian saffron (produced in Kashmir) is the world's most expensive saffron, not to mention extremely difficult to obtain outside India (80% to 90% of the world production of saffron comes from Iran, and the rest comes from Spain, Greece, Italy, Morocco, India, etc). Kashmir saffron has 100% red saffron threads - no yellow ones.
Be careful when buying saffron unless you don't care about quality! You'll come across reasonably priced saffron but when you look carefuly at the package, you know what country the saffron was packaged in but you don't know the actual origin of the saffron.
But if you just want the yellow color in your food you could use the cheap stuff I guess. I mean, how many average people can really tell if your rice dish was made with Spanish or Kashmir or Iranian saffron.