You have most likely heard of saffron – the expensive spice that gives food a magical golden-yellow hue. But when you are paying so much money for only a gram or two of saffron, you need to make sure you are buying it from the right manufacturer.
What are the best saffron brands in USA? High-quality saffron comes from the regions of the world where saffron grows naturally, such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Spain. The best saffron brands grow, harvest, dry, and package saffron properly to make the end result worth the price.
High-quality saffron comes from the regions of the world where saffron grows naturally. This is why Persian, Afghani, and Spanish saffron is always high on the list.
In this article, you will get to know the best saffron brands you can buy this beloved spice from in the US.
You will also learn the step-by-step process of growing top-quality saffron, how to test it, and what saffron types you should be looking into.
Buying Saffron, Why So Expensive?
A small amount of high-quality saffron is costs a lot more than multiple jars of other spices all together.
Why? Because it takes hours to hand-harvest and process saffron from the flower of Crocus sativus. Additionally, over 80,000 of these flowers are needed to produce only a pound of saffron.
If you see cheap saffron, the chances are high that it is either fake or adulterated.
The good thing is, you don’t need much saffron to give color and aroma to your dishes. If you break the price per meal, saffron doesn’t work out to be quite so expensive.
However, if paella and Persian rice dishes are regular meals in your diet and you like adding this aromatic spice to stews and sauces, you might find saffron to be a bit of a spend.
What Makes High-Quality Saffron?
Before saffron reaches the shelves of your local market, it undergoes many stages. From cultivation to how the manufacturer stores dried saffron, it all decides the quality of the spice.
The Right Climate for Cultivation
The best saffron is cultivated in countries with a suitable climate for the saffron flower to grow. The latter likes cold, wet winters, hot summers, and sandy soil.
Saffron grows well in such counties as Iran, India, Afghanistan, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Morocco, etc.
The US, being one of the largest consumers of this beautiful red spice in the world, also produces saffron in certain parts of the county. Washington and Pennsylvania are two of the states that cultivate saffron.
Harvesting is one of the most decisive steps of the entire process of producing saffron.
And it is not surprising that this is done exclusively by hand and at specific times not only of the year but of the day too. Saffron is hand-picked in autumn and early in the morning.
The stigma of the saffron flower, i.e. the red threads, should be left undamaged. This is one of the indicators of high-quality saffron.
There are different types of saffron. The highest quality saffron is all red saffron and a subtype called negin grade saffron (for Persian and Afghani saffron).
The latter is considered to be premium quality saffron where the threads form a red cluster. A lot of work and skills are needed to produce negin saffron.
All red saffron is also called sargol saffron. It refers to the dark red tips of the saffron thread.
Every serious saffron manufacturer states the type and grade of saffron.
If you see that the saffron threads have yellow-white ends, it means that the manufacturer is trying to add some weight. These parts of the stigma are still aromatic but they don’t add any color.
Perfectly Dried Saffron
High-quality saffron is perfectly dried saffron. After harvesting, saffron threads should be dried to the perfect degree. They shouldn’t be moist but shouldn’t be roasted either.
Once dried, saffron should be properly packaged and stored. Hardly will you find high-quality saffron sold in an ordinary plastic spice jar.
How to Test the Quality of Saffron?
Not all saffron brands sell high-quality saffron. As there are brands on the market that sell fake saffron, it is best to buy it from trusted manufacturers.
If you have already bought saffron, here is how to tell if it is real high-quality saffron or not.
- Smell it. Fake saffron doesn’t have a distinct smell. Real saffron, on the other hand, has a unique aroma with sweet notes. It also smells somewhat musky and floral.
- Taste it. Although saffron is a very aromatic spice, it doesn’t have a distinct taste. It is slightly sweet, floral, and bitter all at the same time. If your saffron tastes overly sweet or metallic, it is either fake or very low-quality.
- Test it with water. Put a few saffron threads in water. If they release color quickly, you have bought fake saffron or low-quality saffron with artificial red coloring. Real saffron, in the meantime, releases color slowly but the threads remain bright red.
These three ‘tests’ reflect the three factors that decide the quality of saffron. These are crocin, safranal, and picrocrocin.
Crocin is what provides the color. Safranal stands behind the aroma of saffron. And picrocrocin is what provides the taste of the red threads.
5 Best Saffron Brands In The USA
Here are five of the best brands you can purchase saffron from in the US. With them, you will get the sought-after aroma and color of this phenomenal spice.
|1.||Zaran Saffron||Persian, super negin|
|2.||Golden Saffron||Persian, all red (sargol)|
|3.||Super Red Saffron||Afghani, super negin|
|4.||Delitaliana Spanish Saffron||Spanish, all red (sargol)|
|5.||Kiva Gourmet Spanish Saffron||Spanish, all red (sargol)|
We also have reviewed each one in more detail below, so be sure to keep reading.
1. Zaran Saffron
If you have ever looked into saffron, you know that Persian saffron is the most recognized and valued saffron type.
The reason is not only that over 90 percent of this spice comes from Iran but also that Persian negin grade saffron is the best quality saffron you can buy.
Zaran Saffron produces top-quality saffron with the highest levels of the three saffron quality indicators – crocin, safranal, and picrocrocin.
This super negin saffron is 100% pure. It will add the much-needed aroma and color to any dish you decide to use it in, from Spanish paella to Italian risotto to classic Persian rice.
2. Golden Saffron
Persian saffron brands are front-runners. And this doesn’t come as a surprise.
Golden Saffron is one of the best saffron brands you can buy pure Persian saffron from. This is the finest quality all-red saffron packed with unmatched flavor and aroma.
This saffron is free of any preservatives and artificial colors. You won’t find any yellow or white threads in it that add weight but no color to the dishes.
There are 2 grams of saffron in these tin packages and the manufacturer makes sure that all you get is deep red sargol saffron.
Whether you use Golden saffron in cooking rice and meat dishes or baking cakes, expect it to color your dish with the perfect shade of golden-yellow.
3. Fire Red Saffron
If you want to try the highest quality saffron, you can start with Fire Red Saffron that represents super negin grade saffron with exceptional quality.
This Afghani saffron gets the highest Grade A+ rating.
This means that it is premium quality saffron and the most valuable kind as a lot of work goes into producing this type of saffron.
The flowers to produce this saffron are naturally grown, without any GMOs added to affect the color, taste, or aroma of the threads.
Once hand-picked, the threads undergo a three-round inspection to make sure that you are getting the super negin grade saffron you are paying for.
4. Delitaliana Spanish Saffron
Deliataliana saffron is Spanish all red saffron of the highest quality. Grown without fertilizers, this saffron is naturally packed with color and flavor.
This is category one saffron, meaning that you should expect to get two grams of fragrant red threads that will take your rice dishes, stews, and sauces to the next level.
There are different types of Spanish saffron, Coupe being the highest-quality one. It is the equivalent of Persian sargol grade saffron.
Delitaliana represents all-red Coupe saffron. We’re sure you’ll get what you’re looking for in this high-quality saffron.
5. KIVA Gourmet Spanish Saffron
La Mancha saffron is the second-best Spanish saffron you can get after Coupe.
But don’t be surprised if a few grams of La Mancha saffron cost a bit more than Coupe or Persian saffron sometimes.
The price point is explained by the exclusiveness of this saffron variety as it grows in a very small region of Spain. It is dried by toasting and has hints of smokiness that the rest of the saffron varieties don’t offer.
Unlike the rest of the saffron brands on this list, KIVA sells saffron not in tin but in resealable glass jar packaging. This ensures the freshness of the spice no matter how long you let it sit in your spice drawer.
It should be noted, however, that tin packaging works well too so long as you keep it well-sealed.
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