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Does Saffron go bad? Saffron being one of the most expensive spices in the world is also quite yielding in terms of flavor, aroma, and color because just 3-4 strands hold the power to transform a dish.

It also means that a little goes a long way, so it’s easy to find yourself with the same packet for months or years on end; and at some point, there comes a question of “How fast does saffron go bad?”, or “Does saffron expire?”. The short answer is NO! But also yes. 

In this blog, we will delve into the shelf-life, expiration dates, best-before dates, sell-by dates, and packaged-on dates; and see how the taste and aroma of saffron changes over time.

Does Saffron Expire?

Saffron is considered one of the signs of quite luxury because it is the most expensive spice in the world. What differentiates it from other spices is the rich and exotic taste, aroma, and deep reddish-yellow color it adds to the dishes of many cuisines around the world.

Kesar is also called “red gold” and aptly so. Saffron prices can range anywhere up to 3 lakhs per kg in India and around $2000 in the International market. When consumers invest so much in Saffron or anything for that matter, they expect to get their money’s worth. 

Renowned for its enduring quality, Saffron doesn’t spoil outright. However, like many other perishable spices, saffron does have a shelf life. The passage of time ages the saffron and dulls its vibrant flavor, potency, and aromatic essence gradually. However, this process can be slowed by storing the food product in safe containers.

So, NO Saffron doesn’t expire but it does have a best-before date.

Hence, while buying original saffron, always choose a reputable high-quality source like us to have a longer shelf life.

Also Read: How To Store Saffron Like a Pro?

What Makes Saffron Go Bad?

What makes Saffron go bad? This is the question that many of you must be interested in! The delicate filaments of saffron are sensitive to environmental conditions which impact the shelf life of the product.

Factors such as moisture, temperature, and light exposure play crucial roles in determining saffron expiry date. In fact, the quality of the saffron and how it was treated after harvesting also affect its shelf life.

  1. Saffron Quality: High-quality Saffron that has been dried at the right temperature and stored correctly will remain fresh for up to 10 years however if it was exposed to any kind of moisture the shelf life might be reduced. So always look for safe saffron packaging. 

But after opening, you should use your purchased Saffron within 2 years of the harvest date just to be absolutely sure.

Adulteration also affects the shelf life of Saffron and makes it more perishable, make sure to buy from a well-known and reviewed source.

  1. Saffron Whole vs Grounded: Whole Saffron filaments like many other whole spices will last longer and retain their flavor and natural Aroma. The grounded variety of spices lose their Aroma much faster and are much more susceptible to moisture. Adulteration also goes undetected in “ground” varieties of spices.
  2. Environmental Factors: Saffron gets affected by moisture, oxidation, and light exposure which risk the quality and properties of saffron. It is best to keep your purchased Saffron in airtight containers and in the dark.
  3. Storage or “How to store saffron?”: If you buy it in bulk it is a smart move to separate it into smaller batches and keep it in small jars which are airtight. Store the saffron in a dark pantry and use them one by one. You can also put food-safe silica packets in your Saffron container to prevent spoilage by moisture.

Do not put it in the fridge, it will alter the quality and might even spoil the filaments of the refrigerated saffron because of excess moisture.

Also Read: How Long Does Saffron Last? Don’t Let Your Red Gold Fade

How to know Saffron is expired?

If you are looking for ways to check if your saffron has gone bad or is still usable, these are a few things that might help.

  1. Saffron Look Test: Start by checking the information label on the packaging containers. If there is an expiration date or use-before date, you can take that into account while deciding if you want to use that saffron batch or not. The sell-by date mentioned on the packaging also provides you with an idea of the timeline of the peak quality of the product.

Many times the packages do not have a best-before date, but they do have a packaged-on date, use that as a guiding scale that your saffron should be used up within 2-3 years of that date.

Another part of the look test is to inspect the strands closely and carefully, if they seem to have lost their bright red color, the saffron must have been exposed to light. 

Check for clumped threads or clumps in grounded saffron which is indicative of spoilage due to moisture, in that case, it is safe to discard that batch.

  1. Smell Test: Saffron has a distinct aroma that stays viable when stored in an air-tight container and in the dark. If the smell has reduced, you can take a few strands and rub them between your fingers and smell again, it should still give you the aroma. If the fragrant property is gone, there is a good chance, that so is the taste.
  1. Saffron Color Test: Properly stored Saffron, even after its expression date should impart a reddish-yellow color when immersed in warm water for 15-20 minutes. The color intensity might diminish with the aging of the saffron. 
  1. Saffron Taste Test: After steeping the saffron in warm water/milk, use it in your dish, if it doesn’t add that distinctive earthiness, there is a possibility it has lost its freshness and potency. 

Can I Use Saffron Past the Expiration Date?

We have established that if there is no spoilage in your saffron and the aroma and color look up to standards, then YES you can still use that saffron. The only risk in using saffron that is way past its use-by date is that it will lack the distinguishable smell, flavor, and color and will not do the job it is added for.

As with any other expensive food item in your pantry, you want to make the most out of your purchase. If it feels like it has lost some aroma, lightly toasting the strands and grinding them might help rejuvenate them or soak them in warm water/milk. 

With Saffron, to ensure its vibrant color, distinct aroma, and potent taste, proper storage is key. Hence, though not susceptible to spoilage, saffron’s enduring quality hinges on the diligence of its custodians in maintaining its essence, ensuring each delicate thread retains its unmistakable allure and culinary charm.

Do you want to use your left-up Saffron before it goes stale?  Here are a few recipes that use saffron for you to try. 

Want to refill your stash? We at Kashmirica bring you the finest Saffron in India, to your doorstep. 

Also Read:

What Does Saffron Taste Like?

How To Use Saffron? 8 Unique Ways

Top 13 Benefits of Saffron [Scientific Research]

Buy and Save on Kashmiri Foods

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