We spotted these small jars of Spanish saffron at Trader Joe's the other week, and we're curious how this saffron holds up in the kitchen. Has anyone tried it?
Normally something of a luxury item, these jars were only $5.99 for one gram (about a third of an ounce). This price seems a little too good to be true, frankly, and made us wonder about the quality.
For those who may not know, saffron is the stigmas from a particular kind of crocus flower. It takes roughly 70,000 crocus flowers to produce just one pound of dried saffron, all of which has to be harvested by hand because of the delicacy of the flower.
The best saffron is harvested seasonally and carefully dried in the sun or over a low fire. Like any spice, saffron is best when fresh and loses its potency over time. Less-expensive saffron powder is often made from sub-par saffron or old saffron. We suspect that this saffron from Trader Joe's is somewhere in between - old saffron that's past its prime but still has some kick.
Just a few threads of saffron give food an intense yellow color, most noticeable in dishes like French bouillabaisse, Italian risotto milanese, and Indian biryanis. The flavor is very subtle while the aroma has a fairly strong presence. Both flavor and aroma are lightly floral, in our opinion, though more like freshly cut hay than actual flower.
If anyone could find a way to sell decent saffron at a reasonable price, it would be Trader Joe's. Probably we should have just picked up a jar to try, but we're frugal creatures and already had some (expensively-purchased) saffron back home.
Have any of you given this product a try? What's your verdict?
(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)