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Old 02-27-2006, 03:08 PM   #1
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American saffron?

While shopping at Wegmanns, I came upon american saffron in the spice section. Has anyone here tried this product? If so, how does it compare to spanish saffron? It was really inexpensive, I guess I should have tried it.
Thanks,
John.

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Old 02-27-2006, 09:45 PM   #2
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"American Saffron" - aka "False Saffron" is just Safflower - a thistle. Doesn't taste like the real thing. It gives you the color, but not the real flavor. Other "make believe" saffron substitutes include turmeric, marigold blossoms, and annatto seeds.

Real saffron is the stigmas from crocus sativus flowers.

I did find a site that gave a substitution formula: "use 8 times as much; less expensive and imparts similar color, but taste is decidedly inferior."
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Old 02-28-2006, 02:11 AM   #3
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My reaction was the same as MFtW's ... My MIL used to grow saflower and send it to me, and it was great for giving that color to dishes. But if you're looking for that unique, earthy flavor, it won't come from saflower. That said, there's nothing wrong with cooking with safflower. It is pretty. It just isn't the same thing.
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Old 02-28-2006, 02:16 AM   #4
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One thing that burns my patootie is that once upon a time, many years ago (less than ten) I actually got a seed catalog that was selling saffron crocus bulbs. I tried to figure out if they'd live in the environment where I was at the time. Decided that they wouldn't work. But now you can't even buy them.
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Old 02-28-2006, 10:02 AM   #5
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Thank's for the info, I'm glad I asked first.
Gee, that's almost like false advertising calling it saffron.
Guess I'll try Trader Joes to see if they have the real thing.
Mike, I've used tumeric many times for yellow rice. It does give it a nice color, but your right, it's a poor substitute.
Claire, you've got me curious about those bulbs. Crocus do grow in my area, but I wonder if the saffron species would?
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Old 02-28-2006, 10:18 AM   #6
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If you KNEW just how many crocus stamens you'd need to get any worthwhile amount of saffron
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Old 02-28-2006, 11:26 AM   #7
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I wonder that myself (Claire is Roy, BTW, I am one and the same, just was having log-in problems so changed my name!). I live in northwest Illinois now, and crocus are here everywhere. At the time I found the bulbs in a catalog (it was Park Seed, many years ago), I lived on the central Florida coast and there were no crocus, so I wasn't willing to spend the $$$$ on the experiment. Now if I ever find a source again I'll try it. I haven't seen the bulbs in any of my seed catalogs since I moved here.

You can pretty much take it to the bank: If it isn't expensive, it isn't real saffron. Ounce for ounce, saffron is the most expensive comodity in the world. I personally don't buy it very often, don't think the flavor is worth the expense except in certain dishes. Then I buy just what I need (paella is pretty much it for me) because I don't think it has much of a shelf life (another reason not to buy it when it looks inexpensive -- it's probably too old). If you find bulbs, let us know!
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Old 02-28-2006, 11:30 AM   #8
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Ishbel, I suspect that if we grew our own saffron, in my yard, I could probably get enough to make one dish a year from it! And that's assuming I actually got my fanny out there to harvest it at the right time! But it would be fun to try.
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Old 02-28-2006, 11:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy
Ounce for ounce, saffron is the most expensive comodity in the world.
I am not sure this is true. I know saffron is the most expensive spice, but you can get an ounce of saffron through Penzys for between $140 and $240. I am pretty sure that an ounce of gold is going for a lot more than that right now.

Saffron is so expensive because it takes so many stamin to make up a substantial amount. They also have to be hand picked. Talk about a lot of labor!
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Old 02-28-2006, 11:45 AM   #10
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You're probably right; I probably heard that urban myth years ago, maybe it was never true, maybe the price of gold was down, and maybe saffron isn't as expensive as it used to be. Mea culpa for repeating a quote without researching.
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