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.

Next Up

Katie's Healthy Bites: Healthier Hot Dogs

Can you eat hot dogs on a healthy diet? Here are our picks for the best brands and the most filling hot dog toppings.

Katie's Healthy Bites: Marvelous Mushrooms

We tend to associate nutritious fruits and veggies with bright beautiful colors, but don’t be fooled -- mushrooms are earthy gems that are packed with nutrients.

Katie’s Healthy Bites: Summer Salads

Beat the heat of the season, with a light, refreshing, summer salad! It’s finally time for some really fresh produce. Experiment with seasonal fruits and vegetables from your local farmer’s market. Next time you go to a neighborhood barbeque use these tips and bring a salad that will leave your friends wanting more than just hot dogs and hamburgers.

Katie's Healthy Bites: Grilled Fruit

Katie Cavuto Boyle explains how to grill fruit and which fruits to use on your grill this summer.

Katie's Healthy Bites: Discovering Achiote

Commonly used in Latin American, Indian and Spanish cuisines, achiote is a seed harvested from the annoto shrub. Earthy, sweet and peppery, this spice not only adds flavor but a deep, reddish color to foods.