Identify Pure Saffron

Saffron is an expensive ingredient and obviously people see money by selling the fake saffron. With no machines to check the genuineness, How would you differentiate Pure Saffron from the Fake Saffron? Here are some of the ways by which you can easily identify the pure saffron

  1. If you put a saffron thread/strand in your mouth and if it tastes sweet…. IT’s FAKE
  2. If u know what Honey smells like, and you also know what hay smells like…you would know what Real Saffron Aroma is. It is literally a blend of Hay and Honey smells.
  3. Put Saffron in water. In some time, it will colour the water. when you take the thread our of water, it wouldn’t have lost its original colour, whereas if is is fake, it would completely lost its added colour, and wouldn’t look the same.
  4. A very interesting test is to add a little baking soda in water and mix it. Then add saffron to the mixture. The water/baking soda mix shall turn yellow if its Pure SaffronThe fake one will turn dim red
  5. One of the most interesting Mantras for saffron is to use the the word Sweet correctly. Good saffron should always Smell Sweet and never Taste Sweet.

Saffron is an autumn-flowering crocus

We who are more familiar with spring-blooming crocuses find it surprising that Crocus sativusspreads its large lavender to purple corollas in the fall. So it is easy to confuse this crocus with autumn crocus. Autumn crocus, a member of the Liliaceae family, has six stamens and three distinct styles, while saffron crocus, which belongs to the Iridaceae family, has three stamens and a style divided into three stigmas. Saffron comes from these three very long (about 2.5 cm) reddish-orange stigma of C.sativus. The word “crocus” is said to derive from the Greek word krokos, meaning thread, probably an allusion to the long, thin stigmas. The word “saffron,” for its part, comes from the Arabic word za'farân, meaning yellow, which is the colour obtained from the stigmas. The oldest image of saffron, dating from 1700 to 1600 BC, was found on a fresco in the palace of Minos, in Crete.

Real Or Fake?

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a member of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family. Its dried rhizome yields a yellow colour used in making curry powder. It was once known as Indian saffron. Meadow saffron is the common name of autumn crocus (Colchicum automnale), which we mentioned earlier. It has no culinary applications at all, and in fact produces a poison called colchicine, sometimes used to improve plants by inducing genetic mutations. But above all there is safflower, known as bastard saffron or Portuguese saffron. Carthamus tinctorius is native to western Asia, and is an annual in the Asteraceae (or Compositae) family. Its capitula resemble those of thistles, but the florets are bright yellow turning to burnt orange as they age or dry. Thanks to this colour and especially because they release a yellow colorant (even red at higher concentrations), the florets of C. tinctorius are the main saffron substitute. It takes five times more safflower to produce the same effect, however, and it has a mild, insipid taste

In India its seeds are used to produce a highly polyunsaturated cooking oil called safflower oil. Before synthetic products came along, its main colorant was employed in dyeing. It is also used to colour butter and margarine. In Europe and the United States, safflowers are cultivated as ornamental plants, and make a lovely addition to dried flower arrangements.

The cosmetic industry chemically extracts carthamine, a red powder that is mixed with talcum powder to produce rouge, or blush. As far back as the 1st century AD, Pliny the Elder said that saffron was the most falsified commodity, and the situation has not changed with time. A number of tricks are used to increase the weight of saffron: adding oil or glycerine, broken safflower flowers, obviously, but also garden and French marigolds, poppies, corn silk (stigmas), and even bits of coloured plastic! It is even easier to adulterate the powder, as you can imagine, by adding different spices, sugar, starch and so on. But only real saffron imparts its characteristic flavour and rich yellow colour to foods.

There are a few key ways to tell real saffron from fake: taste, smell, look and price.

Saffron (thread/strand) never tastes sweet, If it’s sweet you surely bought the fake one. Real saffron will have a bitter and slightly astringent taste when placed on the tongue.Then there is the aroma. Saffron has a very distinct smell. While fake saffron will have almost no aroma, the smallest amount of genuine saffron will have a characteristic and intense smell.To identify the aroma you first have to know what real saffron smells like. The real Saffron Aroma is a blend of earth, tabacco, vanilla, honey, salty sweet. Just remember this one mantra: Good saffron will always SMELL sweet and never TASTE sweet.

Genuine saffron also has a particular look about it, with a unique coloration and strands of saffron having a diffuse end. Real saffron won’t lose its original colour after you’ve put it in some water. Only the real saffron will keep its original colour when you take the thread out of the water. The fake one will have lost completely its added colour and won’t look the same anymore.The water with the pure saffron will turn honey-yellow. The fake one will turn dim red. You can also rub the saffron threads between wet fingers: they will red/gold/orange.