Saffron questions

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Senior Cook
Feb 22, 2003
the great fly-over
I have a lot of recipes that call for saffron, but I've always left it out until recently. I finally found a mail order source where it wasn't too expensive, and finally tried it in some risotto. My girlfriend and I thought it tasted like plastic.
So, is this normal or did I get a bad batch? I figured that since it was so rare & prized, it would taste better than a melted disposable cup.
Also, I have recipes that call for a tsp of saffron--that's at least $5 by my math. Why is this spice so important?
Just wondering if my taste buds are working...
Well, it's expensive because it has to be harvested by hand, it is the stamen of the crocus flower, and it all has to be picked individually, so you can imagine how labour-intensive that is.

I don't know if you got a bad batch, but I personally bought saffron about a year ago and I didn't think it was very spectacular at all, boring, actually.

As for your tastebuds, after years of only eating "roast beast", I think it's probably safe to assume that they are shot. :P
hi Coco,
at least I'm not the only one who didn't find it great. Out of curiosity, what did you think it tasted like? Or could you even taste it?
I'm so dissapointed. I could probably buy diamond shavings for less, and they would taste better in food.
And I don't think it's the diet that's shot my tastebuds--it's more likely the smoking & drinking. :P
I've tried saffron, and didn't find that it added much to a dish...except for yellow color. Tumeric is said to be a good substitute, and is far cheaper. Makes a pretty rice dish is about all I can say in favor of saffron!
Frankly, in my opinion, for all that it adds to a dish, you may as well just use a bit of yellow food coloring! :roll:
Well, I use saffron a little - haven't used it in years lately! But I find it has a very subtle flavor - not really like plastic - more musty - but the flavor is VERY subtle.
musty? like that closed up smell we try to cover up with $$$$$ of candles, air fresheners?
I'm not really sure what it tasted like. I tried it in paella, and we hated the paella so much it's hard to remember the saffron, but I think kitchenelf is correct, sort of musty, earthy, is how I would describe it.
LOL Norma - NO, not that kind of musty - truffle kind of musty - Cocoa described it perfectly - earthy. I love paella - I can't imagine what could have made it really bad Cocoa - to me the saffron just doesn't have a strong enough flavor unless maybe too much was used - use tumeric the next time - at least that will give the yellow color.
You know, it wasn't actually the saffron that made the paella so bad, we kind of had an issue with having chicken, chorizo, and shellfish all in the same dish. It was just weird to us. C couldn't believe that he was eating shellfish-scented rice with pieces of chicken and sausage in it, he seriously, just could not conceptualize it. Although I really wanted to try it, and I think that historically it is a really great dish, I'm not sure paella is my thing, because I like my surf separated from my turf. :LOL:
That's interesting Cocoa - I never would have thought anything about it. One way I make a "faux" paella is with just plain white rice, kielbasa, shrimp, and onions. But you could do it with just the kielbasa, or just the shrimp. To me the flavor comes from really browning the ingredients. I always brown the kielbasa first, then take it out, brown the chopped onions and then the shrimp if using. Add the cooked rice back to the skillet, toss thoroughly to get all the flavor off the bottom of the pan, top with a little grated cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. I guess living here in the South we are influenced by the coastal region and even moreso by the Creole/Cajun where there is quite often some combination of seafood/sausage/rice - whether it's in soup form or Jambalaya form.
I almost always brown rice just a little before adding any liquid, regardless of the dish. I love the "nutty" flavor it adds.
I agree ith you on the Creole/Cajun influence. You'll also similair mixtures of foods in the Hispanic culture. My son in law is from Mexico City, my family migrated to Texas from the South, including you'll always find a lot of spicey dishes served here...
in fact my daughter makes sort of a hodge podge soup...of left overs....that's much like a Jambalaya...but WITHOUT the okra, that's one thing that I can't deal with...BOILED OKRA.

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