Katie's Healthy Bites: Savory Saffron



Pile of saffron on white

Photo by: Alina Solovyova-Vincent

Alina Solovyova-Vincent

Reddish-orange in color, saffron threads impart the most beautiful golden hue and sweet-savory flavor to many a dish. If you are not familiar with this delicate spice, this is your chance to get acquainted and fall in love with saffron like I did.

Saffron is a valuable spice used most commonly in Middle-eastern, Asian and Mediterranean dishes.  It is known for its vibrant yellow color and bittersweet aroma and is frequently used to season a wide-variety of dishes, such as curries and Spanish paella.

The Basics:

Saffron is actually the stigma of the Crocus flower, a close relative to the Iris.  It is mainly harvested in parts of Europe and Asia during cool, dry autumnal seasons. Believe it or not, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and rightfully so.  There are only three stigma per flower, which are hand harvested.  One ounce of saffron is made up of over 13,000 threads.  Luckily, a few of the sweet-savory threads go a long way.

Culinary Uses

Although saffron is most often used in rice-based dishes and sauces, it can also add its deliciously potent flavor and enticing fragrance to meats, fishes, and grains.  Only a pinch (a couple of “threads”) is necessary to enhance your dish with its unique qualities!

Purchasing, Packaging, and Storage

When purchasing fresh saffron, it must appear shiny and greasy.  Once dried, store in a cool, dark space to preserve its notable pigment and aroma.

Recipes To Try:
TELL US: How do you use saffron?

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, personal chef and owner of HealthyBites, LLC. See Katie's full bio » Co-written by Domenica Toscani.

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