What is the Best Saffron?
To find the best saffron, we ordered in several brand and started cooking. We made batches of paella and saffron rice . . . and then started tasting.
What is saffron supposed to taste like?
Well, that is a matter of debate.
In our opinion, the best saffron has a slightly floral taste and sweet aroma. But let’s be honest: the flavor is very subtle.
For some folks, saffron has a hay-like aroma . . . and others claim the taste is more bitter than sweet.
We chalk up the differences to how folks prepare the saffron. Saffron threads are typically ground up and made into a slurry (with a touch of warm water).
We wonder if the vastly different ways folks perceive saffron flavor and aroma is caused by different preparation—hard water versus soft, how much water is added to activate it and more. Then you consider the complex flavors of a dish like paella, where saffron may interact in ways that aren’t quite clear . . . at least to us, amateur cooks.
30 seconds of Saffron History
Yes, saffron has been around for a long time—since the Bronze Age to be exact. Use of saffron was depicted in Minoan cave paintings from 2000 BCE on the isle of Crete.
Early on, saffron was used as a dye for cosmetics. Monks mixed saffron with egg yolks to create a paint-like ink for manuscripts.
Most saffron grown today is imported from Iran, although Greece, Morocco, Italy and India also cultivate saffron.
Now that you know a bit more about saffron, here are the winners from our taste tests: