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Adding a new spice to my rack

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello all, I wanting to purchase some saffron, as I have never used it but have found some good looking recipes that call for it. I am wanting to order online and was hoping to get some help on what exactly to get. I want the Kashmiri variety. Should I get the Baby Brand or Shahi-Kessar brand by Royal Saffron? If I go Baby Brand should I go with 5-1 gram pack, 1- 5 gram packs, or the blister pack containing 100- 50mg packs. I like the idea of the blister packs for freshness but don't know how much 50mg adds up to for an average recipe. If I go Shahi-Kessar I can get 2- 5 gram packs for only $20 more than the Baby Brand, but would I be able to tell a difference? Anyways, help with this would be great!

Thanks
Dan
post #2 of 14

I'm not going to get into brands and countries of origin. That's an on-going discussion with deep feelings on all sides.

 

Just out of curiousity, if you've never used it, how did you decide on a source preference?

 

However, to help you with quantities: Most recipes call for a "pinch" of threads, which usually are crushed between the fingers and bloomed in a little warm water, stock, or wine to extract the most flavor. A 1-gram container will yield two or three such pinches, depending on how heavy you wish to go.

 

As a general rule, the larger the container the lower the price per usable amount.

 

The best prices for saffron, particularly in quantity, can be found here: http://www.theposter.com/saffron2.html

 

One word of advice: In many recipes, the saffron is used more (or exclusively) for color rather than flavor. If that's the case, you're better off subbing turmeric for the incredibly expensive saffron.

 

Oh, yeah: To answer your question, I doubt you'd be able, at this point, to tell any difference between say, Iranian saffron and the less expensive Spanish saffron. Indeed, unless you start using a lot of it, it's doubtful you'll ever notice a difference.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the response, as far as sources I just did research online and some cooking shows. I have heard Kashmiri is the best/better stuff. I have read that baby brand is the best quality. If I'm not going to tell much of a difference I can go with the cheaper Kashmiri. If a pinch is as much as you say it is then I would need a whole sheet of 10 blister packs to make one pinch. Which is weird as they say one blister is an average amount for single use. So maybe he larger packs make more sense. As far as tastes go I hope to start using more spices more frequently. I have a bit of OCD when it comes to having the better end of options. Any other advice?

Thanks
Dan
post #4 of 14

I don't know about Kashmiri. Generally, Iranian is considered the best saffron, and I'm glad it's available again. It wasn't for awhile.

 

Isn't a milligram a hundreth of a gram? If so, they're correct, because 50 mg would be a half gram, which is comparable to a pinch as I described.

 

Were it me, I'd start with yellow rice as your first dish with it, so you can learn what saffron actually brings to the table.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #5 of 14

1000 milligrams = 100 centigrams = 1o decigrams = 1 gram

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #6 of 14
Quote:

Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Were it me, I'd start with yellow rice as your first dish with it, so you can learn what saffron actually brings to the table.

 



Then move on to paella! One of my favorite one-pot dish of all times. If you can't be bothered to make a "real" paella, you could make arroz con pollo y camarones, which is delicious too.

 

See, now, I'm hungry.

post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

1000 milligrams = 100 centigrams = 1o decigrams = 1 gram



Yup, and same thing with liters:

 

1000 milliliters = 100 centiliters = 10 deciliters = 1 liter

 

We have it easy in French because "milli" stands for 1/1000 (mille = thousand), "centi" stands for 1/100 (cent = hundred), "deci" stands for 1/10 (dix = ten).

 

Maybe we should start that in English too? A thousigram, a hundrigram, a tenigram? Don't mind me, I'm just having fun.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was actually thinking the same thing as well. Doing a rice dish from Good Eats. From what I looked up there are about 20 threads per pinch and 23 "pinches" per gram. So the blister pack is looking more appealing as each blister seems to be a pinch. I wonder how difficult they would be to open as opposed to opening a little box and grabbing a pinch.

Dan
post #9 of 14

Thanks Pete and FF. But it's a hopeless effort. By tomorrow I'll be getting them confused again. Just one of the reasons I'm a writer instead of a mathamatician.

 

Saabracer, you're getting too mathamatically obsessive for me. Once you physically look at a gram of saffron you'll know there's no such thing as 23 pinches in it. Nor even a quarter of that.

 

To check, I just opened a new 1-gram container. By volume it's a rounded teaspoon. Lot's of luck using 1/23 of that to even color something, let alone flavor it.

 

At any rate, saffron is no different than any othr spice, in that how much to use is dependent on personal taste, not some pre-determined measurement which merely reflects somebody else's taste buds or monetary desire.

 

Do you buy any other spices that way? Peppercorns in 12-bud blister packs? Fennel seeds in 1/8-ounce bubbles? McCormicks brought out a series of premeasured spices for specific dishes. Is your pantry full of them?

 

Just because it's more expensive is no reason to buy and use saffron any differently. My advice: Buy the largest bulk quantity you can afford, and dip what you need with your fingers. And be warned: No matter how much you buy, it will never be enough.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post


Thanks Pete and FF. But it's a hopeless effort. By tomorrow I'll be getting them confused again. Just one of the reasons I'm a writer instead of a mathamatician.



 



Saabracer, you're getting too mathamatically obsessive for me. Once you physically look at a gram of saffron you'll know there's no such thing as 23 pinches in it. Nor even a quarter of that.



 



To check, I just opened a new 1-gram container. By volume it's a rounded teaspoon. Lot's of luck using 1/23 of that to even color something, let alone flavor it.



 



At any rate, saffron is no different than any othr spice, in that how much to use is dependent on personal taste, not some pre-determined measurement which merely reflects somebody else's taste buds or monetary desire.



 



Do you buy any other spices that way? Peppercorns in 12-bud blister packs? Fennel seeds in 1/8-ounce bubbles? McCormicks brought out a series of premeasured spices for specific dishes. Is your pantry full of them?



 



Just because it's more expensive is no reason to buy and use saffron any differently. My advice: Buy the largest bulk quantity you can afford, and dip what you need with your fingers. And be warned: No matter how much you buy, it will never be enough.






Good advise, never thought of it that way. I am obsessive! So in the end you'd go with Iranian over Kashmiri? Either way go bulk.

Dan
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Wow, I just checked out that link and if Iranian is anywhere near or better the quality of Kashmiri than that's great. It's less than half the price at that site!

Dan
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by saabracer23 View Post





Good advise, never thought of it that way. I am obsessive! So in the end you'd go with Iranian over Kashmiri? Either way go bulk. Dan

 

 

  If you aren't familiar cooking with saffron why not just start cooking with it?  Cook with it, get used to it, try some cheap stuff, try other grades and varying origins of saffron.  Also try substitutes for saffron to learn what they bring to the table.

 

   I think if you start cooking with saffron and eating dishes prepared with it you'll stop being so obsessed about the number of threads.  
 

post #13 of 14

More to the point, if you want to learn to cook with any spices you need to get over some of that OCD.

 

You have a twofold job, right now. First is learning what spices are all about; their flavors, and mouth feel, and how they relate to other foodstuffs and flavorings. If you slavishly adhere to formulas and try for mathematical precision you will never be comfortable cooking. So, just learn to dive in and see what happens.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 14
Just to warn you, don't get suckered into the Mexican saffron. I bought it on a whim, it adds no color or flavor and the threads don't break down. It was literally only a few dollars but not worth even that. I buy my saffron in a little glass jar from a very expensive restaurant in the theater district. I've known the owner chef since before he opened it. That's the only reason I even know "you can" buy it there.

Otherwise of course Penzys has it, call them...
http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html
...All anyone ever does is complain....stop griping and start being thankful...be grateful...be appreciative...
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...All anyone ever does is complain....stop griping and start being thankful...be grateful...be appreciative...
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