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Saffron – The Topic

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I think you need to go to a reputable vendor to get good Spanish saffron. We buy ours from a Spanish importer in Newark, NJ, and buy a whole (four?) ounce tin at a time, for about $40.

I have had good results with saffron from Penzey's (www.penzeys.com)

In their current catalog they offer three grades:

Spanish Superior Quality--$6.49 per gram

Coupe Quality Spanish--$7.95/gram

and what they say is the finest saffron in the world:

Indian Mogra cream saffron (from Kashmir)--$10.95 per gram

I have tried the Mogra Cream and find it to be the best I have ever used.

I also like the Coupe Quality Spanish Saffron.

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Just a thought on the value of saffron...

which would you pay more for, salt or saffron?

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Is that scarcity over culinary value and effectiveness?

I know which one I'd not miss

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Just a thought on the value of saffron...

which would you pay more for, salt or saffron?

Is this a trick question?

really--saffron is expensive on a purely weight based cost.

In reality a very little goes a long way-- so on a pure per use cost it is well worth it (and not that expensive)--it is all relative.

As already noted here-saffron provides a unique flavor (it is not about the color only otherwise turmeric would be a valid substitute).

as with many things-one either enjoys the flavor of saffron or not.

for my taste-I can not imagine a paella (or a Milanese risotto) without good quality saffron--it is integral to these dishes.

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Well, salt is important, but it's dirt cheap. The thing about saffron is that you can't omit it in the dishes that really call for it. Ditto on the risotto milanese -- I mean can you really have a proper Osso Bucco without it?


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Just a thought on the value of saffron...

which would you pay more for, salt or saffron?

Is this a trick question?

really--saffron is expensive on a purely weight based cost.

In reality a very little goes a long way-- so on a pure per use cost it is well worth it (and not that expensive)--it is all relative.

As already noted here-saffron provides a unique flavor (it is not about the color only otherwise turmeric would be a valid substitute).

as with many things-one either enjoys the flavor of saffron or not.

for my taste-I can not imagine a paella (or a Milanese risotto) without good quality saffron--it is integral to these dishes.

No trick, just commenting on how folks wax lyrical about the great and glorious saffron, when it's ok, but not that great really. Seriously speaking, salt is far more valuable to me as an ingredient, and probably to most folks. I feel that saffron is regarded as a king of spices because of it's price, not it's worth.

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Well, salt is important, but it's dirt cheap. The thing about saffron is that you can't omit it in the dishes that really call for it. Ditto on the risotto milanese -- I mean can you really have a proper Osso Bucco without it?

I guess that it's safe to leave salt out then... :biggrin:

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just commenting on how folks wax lyrical about the great and glorious saffron, when it's ok, but not that great really.

That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. Me, I am -majorly- disappointed when I dine at a Spanish restaurant and I have a Paella or Arroz con Pollo and discover that they didn't use saffron and used something like tumeric. Its enough to turn me away from a place completely.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Well, salt is important, but it's dirt cheap. The thing about saffron is that you can't omit it in the dishes that really call for it. Ditto on the risotto milanese -- I mean can you really have a proper Osso Bucco without it?

I guess that it's safe to leave salt out then... :biggrin:

You can totally leave salt out of a paella because the things you inevitably put in it are pretty salty -- sausage, seafood, etc. Saffron? No way.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I, too, remain ambivalent about saffron - neither liking it particularly nor disliking it. My response when I first tasted it was, "What is the big fuss about?"

And wouldn't you know - I received two gifts of top quality saffron for Christmas - one Spanish and one Iranian.

My reaction was the same!!

Altough i did make a tamarind sauce last weekend that called for a pinch of saffron

The sauce was good but there were so many other spices in it that it blended in very good together.

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Saffron seems to take up a whole pile of glory for an ingredient of 'relative' niche value. Do folks think that it's cash value has anything to do with this?

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Well, salt is important, but it's dirt cheap. The thing about saffron is that you can't omit it in the dishes that really call for it. Ditto on the risotto milanese -- I mean can you really have a proper Osso Bucco without it?

I guess that it's safe to leave salt out then... :biggrin:

You can totally leave salt out of a paella because the things you inevitably put in it are pretty salty -- sausage, seafood, etc. Saffron? No way.

Except that you would have still added salt indirectly, so you didn't omit

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Be it as it may -- I'm really interested in trying some of Daisy Martinez's dishes, from the show Daisy Cooks on PBS.

Daisy is an avowed saffron hater, and she makes Latino-cised versions of some of the Spanish favorites. She uses Achiote Oil to fry rice, pasta, etc, and then adds chicken stock.

Apparently Achiote has a very strong flavor, different from saffron, but it pairs well with many of the dishes that call originally for saffron and it is used in Mexican, Puerto Rican and other latino cuisine. I think it would be interesting to try as a variant but I can't imagine it as a complete substitute.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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No trick, just commenting on how folks wax lyrical about the great and glorious saffron, when it's ok, but not that great really. Seriously speaking, salt is far more valuable to me as an ingredient, and probably to most folks. I feel that saffron is regarded as a king of spices because of it's price, not it's worth.

The same could be said for any number of luxury ingredients -- foie gras, truffles, caviar, etc. They are what they are because the people who value them as opposed to those who don't feel they're worth their weight in gold, for whatever reason they care to assign.

Everything is relative. There are no hard and fast rules.

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The question is... what came first, the value or the worth?

Do people value them because they are truly worthy or because they are valuable?

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Fatmat, perhaps if you understood how much labor actually goes into producing a reasonable quantity of saffron, you'd know why its so expensive and highly valued. The pistils from the Crocus flower have to be picked entirely by hand, each flower only produces three, and you need hundreds of thousands of saffron threads to produce a kilogram worth of spice.

Saffron produces a flavor that cannot be replicated with any other ingredient. Its highly prized in Spanish and Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine. You may hate it, but there's millions of people that absolutely treasure it for its flavor.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Like JohnL, I use Penzey's Indian Mogra cream saffron, which costs $10.95 per gram. Jason, if I'm reading your post correctly, your saffron costs $10/OUNCE, or about 35 cents per gram (since 1 oz = 28.35 grams -- thank you, gourmetsleuth).

I'm a bit perplexed.


Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Fatmat, perhaps if you understood how much labor actually goes into producing a reasonable quantity of saffron, you'd understand why its so expensive.

I know why it's expensive, does not mean that it's abound with culinary value proportionate to it's cost

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I dont have the copy in front of me but the test kitchen of Cook,s Illustrated did a saffron tasting and found the best saffron in the world came from...............Pennsylvania. I think it,s all subjective to the user,I also beleive it is not replaceable in certain recipes when going for authenticity.i for one am a fan

phifly04


"Food is our common ground,a universal experience"

James Beard

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To Jason's point about cost and value (from about.com):

Each purple crocus flower produces three stigmas, which are hand-picked from the blossom, dried, and permitted to ferment slightly to produce saffron. It is estimated that it takes some 14,000 stigmas to produce only one ounce of saffron threads. The labor-intensive process makes the cost of these bright red threads upwards of $50 per quarter-ounce.

Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I dont have the copy in front of me but the test kitchen of Cook,s Illustrated did a saffron tasting and found the best saffron in the world came from...............Pennsylvania.

Now I know why I'm not a Cooks Illustrated subscriber!


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Like JohnL, I use Penzey's Indian Mogra cream saffron, which costs $10.95 per gram. Jason, if I'm reading your post correctly, your saffron costs $10/OUNCE, or about 35 cents per gram (since 1 oz = 28.35 grams -- thank you, gourmetsleuth).

I'm a bit perplexed.

That might be only about 1 ounce in that container total. We did buy it at wholesale prices though.

EDIT: I checked the original post by Rachel Here, where we bought it. Its only an ounce, not four ounces. An ounce of saffron, however, is an awful lot.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Fatmat, perhaps if you understood how much labor actually goes into producing a reasonable quantity of saffron, you'd understand why its so expensive.

I know why it's expensive, does not mean that it's abound with culinary value proportionate to it's cost

Different people view things differently. Doesn't negate the value or worth of an item. It is what it is.

For me, its worth comes from what it adds to dishes that it enhances most. Its an item to be savored with care. I recognize its value and so act accordingly.

Fleur de sel or sel gris (to use your salt analogy) is expensive and value-laden. You can use regular salt in place of it, but there are times when you want to use its rarefied counterpart.

I don't know about you but if we solely used ingredients that were mundane, the world would be a boring place indeed.

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