Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It may seem crazy that a tiny red strand is so costly but when you realize the intense labor required for it’s harvest it makes more sense. Saffron comes from a specific crocus flower which is native to Southwest Asia. Each small crocus flower has only three stigmas which can be dried and used. Also, The crocus has a relatively short flowering season and the flower begins to wilt shortly after blooming. This means that the tedious job of harvesting those three tiny stigmas must happen quickly. 90% of the world’s saffron supply is grown in Iran. Current sanctions on Iran have also limited the world’s supply and hence increased the price of saffron.
Saffron will retain it’s color and flavor potency for up to 2 years if stored appropriately in a cool dark place. To test the condition of saffron that you may have currently in your pantry, simply crush a tiny amount in your hand and give it a smell/taste. Since saffron is so expensive and it may be difficult to ensure the perfect storage conditions, many people will buy it in bulk to try and save money. You can then freeze the saffron for up to three years without it losing its color and flavor.
Can You Freeze Saffron?
Freezing saffron is not difficult but you do want to be careful so that you do not ruin the taste or the color.
How To Freeze Saffron
- To start, pour all of your saffron onto a piece of paper or paper towel. Check it for any unwanted particles and remove them. This will ensure the integrity of your saffron.
- Wrap the saffron in tin foil to protect it from light and air. This will help to maintain color and flavor.
- Put the wrapped saffron in an airtight container or freezer bag. You could also use a glass jar. If you are using a container or a jar you want to make sure there are no dust particles or moisture that will be trapped inside. It is a good idea to wipe the container or jar with a dry cloth prior to putting the saffron in it.
- If you use a freezer bag you need to keep it on the top of your freezer so that the saffron threads do not get crushed.
- When you are ready to use the saffron, take out the amount you need and put the rest back in the freezer immediately.
Don’t be intimidated by the price of saffron! It takes a tiny amount to transform a dish from good to extraordinary. Spanish paella would not be the same without the beautiful color and exotic flavor of saffron. Even a simple weeknight recipe can be elevated with a thread or two of high quality saffron. Buy it up and freeze it to protect its amazing flavor and color for use in many recipes!