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Affordable Saffron

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    Posted: 25 February 2012 at 07:16
It's oft been said that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Sadly, that intimidates a lot of people, and keeps them from using it.
 
Now you can use the real stuff, however. Check out these prices: http://www.theposter.com/saffron2.html
 
I've dealt with these folks for years. What they're offering is the Persian saffron, which, in all due respect to Margi, is considered the finest in the world. Despite their prices, this is good stuff which surpasses the ISO category 1 standards in all regards. For instance, ISO color standards for color are a minimum of 190. The last ounce of saffron I bought from these people ran 240.
 
While you're at the site, check out their vanilla products as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2012 at 03:46
Wow! that is a good price...almost $30.00 per ounce cheaper than my normal supplier.
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2012 at 05:26
Don't know who that is, Dave, but even $120 is a good price. Is that Iranian (whoops! It's now "officially" coming from Afganistan)  or Spanish that you're getting?
 
Locally it's really ludicrous. They only sell it in those little tubes containing some fraction of a gram at more than 12 bucks a pop. I once did the math, and it worked out at $672/ounce. And there are an awful lot of yellow tendrils in it, as much as 25% I'd say. Which means, in practical terms, adding another $150 or so to the pricetag.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2012 at 06:03
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Don't know who that is, Dave, but even $120 is a good price. Is that Iranian (whoops! It's now "officially" coming from Afganistan)  or Spanish that you're getting?
 
Locally it's really ludicrous. They only sell it in those little tubes containing some fraction of a gram at more than 12 bucks a pop. I once did the math, and it worked out at $672/ounce. And there are an awful lot of yellow tendrils in it, as much as 25% I'd say. Which means, in practical terms, adding another $150 or so to the pricetag.

My normal spice supplier is Wholespice Brook...and I've been very happy with all the products I've purchased there. The saffron is Spanish, and comes in at $120.00 per ounce. Nice stuff though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2012 at 06:51
Nice site, Dave. I've bookmarked it.
 
One that we've been happy with is Mountain Rose, at http://mountainroseherbs.com/index2.html
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2012 at 07:04
Next time you're ready to place an order, Dave, it might behoove you to compare and contrast prices. I just looked at some of those we use often and in large quantities (that is, we buy at least a pound at a time), and, on most of them, Mountain Rose is significantly less expensive---often to the tune of almost half.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 February 2012 at 16:09
Thanks for the heads up Brook...I will check carefully before my next order.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aspen Hill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 March 2012 at 07:41
This is an easy plant to grow if you are in Zone 5 or >.  Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Marissa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 March 2012 at 08:19
Originally posted by Aspen Hill Aspen Hill wrote:



This is an easy plant to grow if you are in Zone 5 or >.  Thumbs Up


This is actually my plan sometime soon...

Until then, I 'inherited' my mom's saffron. It's years and years old but was kept well and is still so fragrant! I just used it in a risotto and it really hasn't lost much of the pungency that I can tell. I ought to weight how much it is right now - it's a huge wad of it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 March 2012 at 12:40
Easy to grow, yes. But consider two things: First, it's a fall-blooming crocus. Nothing wrong with that, except it surprises people who expect crocus blossoms in the spring. Second, and most imporant, is the sheer number of plants it takes to produce a useable amount of saffron. So you really need an entire farm field available if you're going to grow your own.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aspen Hill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2012 at 18:46
I'm still going to try growing my own.  There is just much more personal reward to me for one's own harvest efforts!  Heart
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2012 at 08:00
I'm paying 2.99 for a 1 gram pack of spanish saffron at a local store.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2012 at 09:33
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Easy to grow, yes. But consider two things: First, it's a fall-blooming crocus. Nothing wrong with that, except it surprises people who expect crocus blossoms in the spring. Second, and most imporant, is the sheer number of plants it takes to produce a useable amount of saffron. So you really need an entire farm field available if you're going to grow your own.


Don't most recipes only call for a couple of threads? I dunno it's been quite a while since I've done anything with saffron.

This thread has me thinking about planting some. I have a flower bed outside one of my rooms that has nothing but weeds in it right now, and we were just discussing this weekend what to put in it. 50 or so bulbs should produce around 150 threads each season (1 flower per bulb, 3 threads per flower). I would imagine that should be more than enough for my personal use.

Originally posted by AK1 AK1 wrote:

I'm paying 2.99 for a 1 gram pack of spanish saffron at a local store.

That's pretty good, about $85 an ounce. I was wasting time at my local store the other day and they had it on "sale" for $11.99 for a tiny little packet, probably less than a gram. Worked out to just over $500 an ounce.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2012 at 14:38
I'm paying 2.99 for a 1 gram pack of spanish saffron at a local store.
 
That really doesn't sound right, even for Spanish. Are you sure it's not .1 gram (that's 1/10th). If that's the case, you're talking  $852.15 an ounce----which is more in line with what those small containers and vials work out to at retail.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2012 at 14:43
Don't most recipes only call for a couple of threads?
 
They do and they don't.
 
Many older American recipes do specify just a few tendrils. But that's because of the cost factors. With just two or three tendrils you'll get color, but no real flavor. Might as well just use tumeric and save a few bucks.
 
Most real recipes using saffron call for a minimum of a heavy pinch; which translates as about a dozen threads. Most recently I used a half teaspoon in a recipe. And that's measured after the tendrils were crushed.
 
So, as in so many things culinary, you pays your money and you takes your chances.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pitrow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2012 at 11:11
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Don't most recipes only call for a couple of threads?
 
They do and they don't.
 
Many older American recipes do specify just a few tendrils. But that's because of the cost factors. With just two or three tendrils you'll get color, but no real flavor. Might as well just use tumeric and save a few bucks.
 
Most real recipes using saffron call for a minimum of a heavy pinch; which translates as about a dozen threads. Most recently I used a half teaspoon in a recipe. And that's measured after the tendrils were crushed.
 
So, as in so many things culinary, you pays your money and you takes your chances.


Cool, good information to know Brook! Thanks!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2012 at 13:18
Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

I'm paying 2.99 for a 1 gram pack of spanish saffron at a local store.
 
That really doesn't sound right, even for Spanish. Are you sure it's not .1 gram (that's 1/10th). If that's the case, you're talking  $852.15 an ounce----which is more in line with what those small containers and vials work out to at retail.
Nope!  It's a local Indian store that sells it. I was surprised at the low price, but it is that.

Only thing I can guess, is that they move a lot of spice for the local Indian/Southeast Asian community.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2012 at 14:13

Perhaps so, Darko. And if so, that's really great.

I'd like to know where they're getting it, though. My price is $2.80/gram when I buy in bulk.
.
There are a couple of other possibilities you should be aware of.
 
One is quality. In those small quantities you probably don't have an ISO breakdown (or the Spanish equivilent). But you can roughly tell quality by the percentage of yellow tendrils; the higher the percentage of yellow the lower the quality.
 
There is a bigger problem, though, and it's appeared primarily through Indian and some Mid-eastern outlets: counterfeit saffron. I forget exactly where it comes from, but it's not quite the same thing even though it looks the same. Part of the problem is that the retailer might not know himself that it's counterfeit, and is dealing in good faith.  
 
At least you aren't being ripped off, though. A lot of the counterfeiters are selling it at regular saffron prices; like 12 bucks or so for those little vials.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 April 2012 at 03:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 April 2012 at 06:34
The picture sure is pretty. More than pretty, though. The ISO standard for color in Category 1 saffron is 190. So, at 200+ the Costco stuff is above minimum for the best stuff.
 
And you're right, the price is very good.
 
One minor correction: You have to more than double the 14g price. An ounce is 28.5 grams. This would make the per ounce cost $109.77---still an incredible price. Puts it between my supplier and the one you've been using, Dave.
 
But, and here's the key: While costco has the best small-lot prices I've seen, they still work out as more than Darko is paying. In the 5g size it works out as $4.39/gram. In the (roughly) half ounce size it's still $3.78.
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