The stigma of the flower Crocus Sativus brings forth the saffron threads that are commonly infused in the dishes and recipes of Persian cuisine. You will be able to find an interesting twist to pasta, soup, pudding or pastries with a couple of these precious threads in them. However, since each bloom of the flower, which happens only once a year, produces only three stigmas, there are those who try to emulate this spice. To ensure that you are only getting authentic red gold, below are some tips on how you will be able to tell that you have genuine saffron strands.

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You can spot fake saffron threads by tasting it. One of the distinguishing characteristics of pure saffron strands is that it gives off a slight bitter and astringent taste when you place it in your tongue. If it takes sweet, then you are probably holding a fake one because real saffron never tastes sweet. Although for some, genuine saffron may have a semi-sweet taste. However, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that it will still have a slightly bitter taste.


Another characteristic that you should look out for when buying this legendary spice is its aroma. The aroma of authentic saffron can be quite difficult to pin down but if you know what honey smells like, as well as the smell of hay, then you would know how to spot real saffron strands. This is a distinct aroma that is simply not present in fake threads because oftentimes, the latter has no smell. It can be good to note that real saffron will most likely smell sweet, but they will never taste sweet.


Aside from the taste and smell of the spice, you can also visually inspect the threads to determine whether it is genuine or not. Try out a little water test which involves soaking a few strands on a cup of water. Both real and fake strands will most likely colour the water but the key is when you take the strands out of the water. Authentic saffron strands will not lose its colour even when you take them out of the water, unlike the fake one which tends to fade after being soaked.

Another test that you can do is to mix some baking soda to a cup of water. Like with the water test, you need to soak the threads in this solution. A real saffron strand will turn the solution into yellow while a fake one will make the mixture turn into a dim red colour. And of course, if the price of the spice is unbelievably cheap, it is more likely that it is fake.

To wrap things up, make sure that you stock up on authentic saffron strands in your pantry to enhance your dishes the right way instead of otherwise. Check on the taste and aroma of the spice, as well as its colour and price. This will allow you to steer clear of fake saffron threads that won’t really do much for your recipes, rather, it might even be harmful for your health.