Cooking with Saffron Threads
Cooking with saffron threads is much easier than what most people think. Saffron threads are quite frail and can easily be crumbled between your fingers, although for a more uniform powder, use a mortar and pestle. Measure (or count) saffron threads before crushing. In most cases all you need is a pinch. A “pinch” is about 20 medium saffron threads. In fact, too much saffron can ruin a dish with an overpowering, medicinal taste. So in practice, saffron actually costs not much more than most seasonings because of the low serving size and because of how long it can last.
When cooking with saffron threads, you can either crush the threads or soak the threads. The best way to extract flavor from saffron is to soak the threads in hot (not boiling) liquid for 5 to 20 minutes. Perhaps in a small bowl. Then add both the saffron and the liquid to the recipe, typically towards the end of the cooking. It is really that easy. As the saffron soaks, you’ll notice the distinctive aroma indicating that your saffron is ready. I like to soak the saffron in stock or wine (rather than water) to add to the overall flavor of a dish.
When adding saffron threads to soups, stews, salad dressings, and other recipes with a lot of liquid, you can simply toss the crushed threads in with the rest of the ingredients. I still find, however, that I get a deeper, more pervasive saffron flavor by first soaking the crushed threads and then adding them.
Check out some of the saffron threads that we offer here.