You may know of saffron as the world’s most expensive spice, the world’s most magical spice, or simply the spice responsible for giving paella that gorgeous golden hue. What you may not know, is what does saffron taste like?
What Does Saffron Taste Like?
Believe it or not, saffron tastes different for many people, and has been described as having everything from floral or earthy notes, to something more like honey, mushrooms, or even the sea!
Generally speaking, saffron has its own unique smell and taste. This is largely due to one of the main components of saffron, which is a natural chemical called picrocrocin. Picrococin is very bitter in itself, but when used properly, it can really help to enhance a dish.
Truthfully, saffron's unique profile is unlike anything else. When prepared correctly, saffron has a taste that is neither too strong, nor too weak. The taste of saffron is subtle, yet bold enough to be enjoyed in everything from fish to ice cream!
Just like celebrities, saffron needs to be the star of a dish. Saffron is bold like Jennifer Lawrence and yet with its own signature style that pairs with delicacies, like the powerhouse couple Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.
How to Prepare Saffron Correctly
As many consider saffron to have a polarizing taste (most people either love it or hate it!), it’s important to use it correctly. First, it’s important to realize that a little goes a long way. While saffron may scare people away because of its hefty price tag, most of the time, you can get all the benefits of saffron by using a small pinch or a few threads.
To properly release saffron’s unique flavor, the threads should be crumbled or crushed and then allowed to soak in warm liquid, such as water, milk, or broth for at least 10-15 minutes. Then both the liquid and the threads can be added to your recipe.
Find Flavors that work well with Saffron
Saffron’s unique taste means it is better suited paired with some flavors than others. Additionally, the essence is subtle enough that it can easily be lost in a sea of different flavors. You want flavors to complement each other, not overpower!
Saffron and Dairy
Various cultures have been adding saffron to milk for centuries for its medicinal and skin enhancing properties, but the truth is, saffron also tastes delicious with simple, creamy dairy products - especially ice cream!
Saffron with Rice
Similarly, rice dishes such as paella and risotto, do well with saffron because the subtleness of rice allows the saffron to be a starring player.
Seafood and Poultry
Saffron with Other Spices
It may come as a surprise, but saffron does play nicely with certain other spices, such as cinnamon, cumin, and cardamom. When used sparingly, these spices can combine with saffron to create delectable baked goods, chilis, and stews.
Other Friendly Flavors
Other flavors that complement saffron include vanilla and honey, as all have similar earthy and subtle profiles. While vanilla and honey are often used for desserts and sweet dishes, adding saffron can help transform them into unique sauces for your next seafood dinner.
So What Does Saffron Taste Like?
Saffron tastes unique. It's a bit indescribable really, and will vary based on how it's used, but by understanding how to prepare saffron and the flavors that work well with it, you can be confident you're getting the best saffron experience possible!
And since we’re talking about flavor, it’s important to buy saffron fresh, as the flavor can definitely fade over time. Zaffrus can keep you supplied with our premium saffron threads and saffron-infused products!