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Are There Any Substitutes for Saffron?

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Question:

Are there any substitutes for saffron in recipes? I passed on buying saffron at $26 per lb!

Here’s what our chefs had to say:

Saffron is considered an expensive spice; however, keep in mind that a little goes a long way, and that saffron can be stored for up to two years. So, buy it by the ounce to get the best price. It can also be ground really fine to extend its uses. You won’t exactly replicate the flavor, although you can come close on color by using turmeric or safflower. You might look for Mexican saffron, which is a little less expensive, or paella powder. But our chosen answer comes from saffron.com, and says: ‘Saffron has no substitutes and it would be better not to make the dish at all than to leave out the saffron. Annatto, curry powder, paprika, safflower and turmeric are not substitutes for saffron. Their properties are totally different than saffron’s.’

If you need help with quantities and other saffron-related questions, or want to buy saffron, check out gourmetsleuth.com. We also found some interesting history at theepicentre.com, which says, “it takes 75,000 blossoms or 225,000 hand-picked stigmas to make a single pound which explains why it is the world’s most expensive spice.” And, there is a good myth-busters section at thecookinginn.com.

Photo credit: James Holtz, gourmetsleuth.com. Used by permission.

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