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I'm a bit confused with how much saffron to use in a paella recipe. I've seen numerous recipes that state to use 1gram. However I have a 1gram jar and that seems like a lot of saffron to me. I've spotted some recipes that say to use 1/2 a teaspoon and they state that this is about equal to 1gram. But my jar of saffron is a lot more than 1/2 a teaspoon.

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7 Answers

Err on the side of caution. Too much saffron can be overwhelming to the point that it will destroy the dish.

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A couple (4-6) of threads should do it. Buy whole saffron. Soak it in warm water, and yes, don't use too much of it. –  BaffledCook Aug 25 '11 at 21:33
    
@BaffledCook has got it right- maybe even six is too much! One horrible experience 18 months ago and even the smell of it sickens me to this day. –  Doug Sep 15 '11 at 4:20
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A gram is an awful lot. Most recipes I'm familiar with call for a pinch or sometimes a specific (small) number of threads.

Crush the threads first; don't add them whole or you won't get as much out of them.

If your goal is the bright yellow color, soaking the crushed saffron threads in a little wine or vinegar for 10 minutes or so helps quite a bit. I don't know if this makes a difference on how much saffron flavor you get. (And obviously this has to be in a dish that won't mind a couple tablespoons of wine or vinegar.)

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I agree with the others that 1 gram is way too much saffron. Unless you're making one of those huge outdoor pans of paella which feeds 20 people.

Exact quantities depend on how much paella you're making, and the freshness of the saffron involved. I tend to use a hefty pinch, which would be around 12-20 threads, for a paella for 6 (2-3 liters). I'll adjust that downwards for very fresh saffron, and upwards for old stale saffron. You can tell how fresh your saffron is by (a) smelling it, and (b) soaking it in a small amount of warm water. Fresh saffron will smell strongly floral/spicy, and will turn the water bright yellow very quickly.

I like saffron a lot though, and also tend to err on the side of more rather than less.

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I add saffron sparingly, starting with a medium pinch of the threads as I'm cooking, and adding slowly as I go, with pauses for steeping of the flavor. Have occasionally used the powdered (really expensive) saffron and warn you to be extremely careful with that product - once ruined a beautiful seafood stew trying to 'tap' the powder out of the bottle.

Bottom line:

Start with small amounts and taste. It is an extremely powerful spice (used a lot by medicine manufacturers) and can end up making your dish taste like vitamin pills if you aren't careful. Experience will guide you as you use it more.

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An interesting note for those interested: The yellow robes worn by Buddhists are colored with saffron. This fragrant spice was used to cover the smell of the original robe(s?), which were recycled death shrouds. –  Frankie Aug 24 '11 at 0:13
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One gram does seem like too much saffron. From what I've seen, most recipes call for 1 pinch to 1/2 teaspoon of saffron.

To make a pound of saffron, over two hundred thousand stigmas from crocus sativus flowers must be harvested by hand. That's why saffron is the world's most expensive spice, and also why so there are so many fakes on the market. Fortunately, a little of the good stuff goes a long way--it only takes a few threads to add saffron's distinct yellow color and earthy aroma to a family meal of paella or bouillabaisse.

foodsubs.com

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I have read that 2 to 3 strands per person is as much as you need to use when it comes to Saffron. Its not just overpowering to the dish but is also toxic in high amounts.

One medical site states that a medical overdose of saffron, whether used in a dish or medicinally (caps), is five grams and the symptoms range from vertigo, jaundice, vomitting, nosebleeds, bloody evacuations as well as death. Yes I know. Death. LOL.

On the lighter side just use very little saffron. The two to three strands per person seems like the best "rule of thumb" until u are more accustomed to the spice.

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It is VERY hard to poison someone with Saffron since most Saffron are sold in little 1-2g jars. Unless you buy several jars of it and dump it all into a dish, this should be a non-issue. (There are much cheaper ways to poison someone...) –  Jay May 30 '13 at 6:03
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Saffron is one of the most appreciated (and expensive by weight) spices, due to the laborious process of obtaining it from the flowers. It is growth mainly in the Mediterranean area. You only need a small amount (0.15g or 3-4 threads) for a 6 people paella.

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