There are only three criteria you must look for every time you buy saffron:

  • Saffron threads are all red.
  • Saffron threads must be dry and brittle to the touch.
  • Saffron aroma is strong and fresh.

In the following in this text, we help you to choose pure saffron:

1. Smell 

The smell of Pure Saffron reminds people of a mixture of honey and hay aroma. Sometimes the Saffron can have a pungent (almost chemical) type of smell, this is due to high levels of Safranal and Picocrocin in the Saffron.

One saffron producer describes the aroma of real saffron as “a blend of earth, tobacco, vanilla, honey, salty-sweet.”

2. Appearance

Saffron threads are trumpet-shaped. If a thread does not bulge at one end, it’s a fake. If you rub real saffron between your fingers, your skin will turn yellow/orange, also Rub the Saffron threads with your fingers.

After infusing the Saffron threads in cold water for a few minutes, take a couple of threads and place them on your finger. Rub the threads with two fingers back and forth a few times. Pure Saffron threads will not break apart, whereas fake saffron will fall apart or turn into dust or liquid.

3. Taste

Another way to check the quality of saffron is to place a thread of saffron in the mouth. If you feel a sweet taste, then you are holding fake, low-quality saffron. While saffron smells sweet, it tastes slightly bitter, not sweet. Quality Saffron should smell sweet, but never taste Sweet!

4. Price

If it is not too expensive, there’s a good chance it is not real saffron.

5. Time for color release in cold water

Put the threads in a small container of tepid water. Wait at least 15 minutes. Real saffron slowly turns the water yellow. The color change may take up to an hour. The saffron threads themselves retain their red color. If the water changes color immediately or turns red or does not change color, or if the threads lose their color, the substance is not saffron. Deep red color in the water is not a good sign – you want bright yellow color.

Another thing to note is that the Saffron threads should not lose their red colors, fake saffron threads will turn white after a short period of time.

6. Use baking soda

You can mix saffron and baking soda in a small cup filled with water. In case the mixture, in the end, is yellow then you are looking at an example of pure saffron.