Saffron is a unique spice with excellent coloring and flavoring power. It is one of the costliest spices in the world. But does it go bad?
Saffron does not go bad, and you can eat it after the expiration date. However, saffron will lose its flavor and aroma as it ages like other spices. The longevity of saffron also depends on other factors.
Continue reading to learn more about the shelf life of saffron, storage methods, and the best saffrons to buy.
Does saffron go bad?
Saffron will continue to give your meals a distinct aroma and flavor as long as you don’t expose it to unpleasant storage conditions. Your saffron will not go bad if it is properly preserved.
You can always use saffron, but they will become less potent as the years roll by.
How long does saffron last?
The shelf life of ground saffron is 6 – 12 months and 2 -3 years for whole saffron threads. How long your saffron lasts depends on factors such as; storage and whether it is ground or whole.
Furthermore, the quality of the spice has a vital role in determining how long you can use your saffron. This is because saffron that is not adequately dried can develop mold and bacteria quickly, therefore losing its potency.
Unfortunately, there is no information about the moisture content of saffron packages and spices generally. However, you can decipher between good and bad saffron threads by observing the color. Properly dried saffron filaments have a dark red color with dark orange tips.
Saffron is best preserved in a cool, dark, and dry environment, and any condition short of this can make it spoil quickly.
If not correctly stored as recommended, your saffron will last only a few months. The better the storage or preservation technique, the longer your saffron can last.
How to store saffron – Best tips to prolong shelf life
Store saffron in pantries or cabinets
This is the best storage area for saffron. Saffron is best stored in a cool, dark, and dry environment like a cupboard or pantry area. As much as possible, avoid exposing the spice to light as it destroys its quality.
If you purchase thread saffron in sachets, you can transfer them to airtight containers and place them in a dark area away from heat. If your saffron comes in clear jars, wrap them with foil to protect against light, and store them in pantries.
Refrigeration is a flawed storage method for saffron as it can ruin its quality. The fridge generates plenty of moisture, and saffron will quickly lose its quality if it absorbs the tiniest moisture.
Avoid exposing them to high temperatures
Saffron is best stored at a temperature of 15-20oC, keeping the humidity levels at about 40%. Variations in heat and moisture can degrade your spice.
Do not store saffron near a stove or cooker, and be careful not to hold their containers over a steaming pot or pan to prevent moisture from the food and ruining your spice.
Store in smaller quantities
If you purchased a large quantity of saffron, divide them into portions and store them in smaller containers. This way, you will not have to expose the entire stash of saffron to air whenever you need a few threads, thus ensuring that they are well protected from moisture and humidity.
Tip: If you grow saffron or intend to purchase an ample supply, we advise you buy whole saffron threads rather than ground saffron, as the threads have a significantly longer shelf life. You can grind the whole saffron when you need the powder form of the spice.
How to tell if saffron has gone bad
As earlier mentioned, saffron does not go bad unless exposed to harsh storage conditions.
Here are some ways to tell if your saffron is spoilt.
The sell-by date
Packaged saffron usually comes with a sell-by date and, in some cases, the date of harvesting. These dates will give you an idea of how fresh your saffron is, and the closer your saffron is to these dates, the more potent it will be.
If the recommended sell-by date is beyond two or three years, your saffron has likely lost all its potency, so it is best to discard it.
Saffron has a bright crimson-red color, making it one of the most attractive spices in the world.
If your saffron looks faded or dull, it has lost its potency and will not give your recipe the desired flavor or color.
Fresh saffron has a dried grassy smell (hay). To check saffron freshness, rub a small amount of the spice between your fingers to release the aroma. If the smell is faint or nonexistent, the saffron is likely too old and has lost its potency.
Saffron should not be exposed to heat or moisture. If your ground saffron appears clumpy or stuck together, it’s probably been exposed to moisture and will not give you the desired results.
For whole saffron, check that the threads are individual pieces and not stuck together.
Five best saffrons to buy
- Zaran saffron
- Golden saffron
- Organic saffron
- The gathering of saffron
- Alma Gourmet
Can I use expired saffron?
Yes, you can use saffron beyond its expiry date, and it poses no health risk. However, if it has very dull color or has lost its aroma, it is best to discard it.
Can you freeze saffron?
Yes, whole saffron can be frozen to keep them fresh for longer. It should not be refrigerated. You can use airtight containers or freezer bags for the freezing process.
As discussed in this article, saffron does not go bad, and you can use them continuously; however, its potency will decrease with time.