How To Store Saffron For The Best Flavor

Saffron is the world’s costliest spice, which means that it is especially important that you store it properly. It represents a more significant investment when compared to other spices and your method of storing it protects that investment. Saffron has a moderately long shelf life when compared to other spices — two or more years — so buying in bulk is an option, but only if you can keep it from going bad. To maximize its shelf life, here are some of the best tips for storing saffron.

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Dry the saffron

If you have purchased fresh saffron threads, the first step in storing them is to dry them out. The drying process is simple: put the saffron threads between paper towels and place them in a warm, dry location. After about a week, move the threads to a container. 

Use the right container

Saffron should be stored in an airtight container. The goal is to shield the spice from circulating air. Not only should the container block air from outside, but it should also have as little as possible inside it as well. Store your saffron in the smallest container you can find to minimize the amount of air that comes into contact with the spice.

A small container will also make it easy to grab exactly the amount that you need and close it quickly. As you deplete your saffron, transfer the rest to a smaller container to keep limiting its contact with air. 

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Keep saffron away from light

Saffron is extremely sensitive to light, so much so that its photosensitivity determines what time of day it is harvested. The spice loses both its color and its fragrance if it is exposed to too much light. One of your options is to use a container that blocks light, another is to wrap the saffron in foil before placing it in the container. The foil protects the saffron from both light and air. 

Use the right cupboard

Another important question is where to place your saffron container. The first thing to consider will be the nature of the container. If you have chosen a jar or bottle that blocks out light, you can simply place the container on a spice rack like any other spice.

If the container is transparent and you have not wrapped your saffron in foil, you can protect it from light by placing it in an enclosed cupboard. Preferably a wooden one since metal may get warm in a kitchen. Ideally, you want to keep it (and the rest of your spices) away from heat until you cook them. 

Watch your storage temperature

Ideally, you should store your saffron at temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, but you should avoid storing it in the refrigerator if possible. The problem with refrigerating it is that it will attract and absorb moisture when you take it out of the refrigerator. The temperature change can cause various problems, including making it difficult to separate the strands and causing mold growth.

If you are using saffron that has already been refrigerated, minimize the time that it spends at room temperature. In other words, it should be out of the refrigerator only for as long as it takes to get the quantity that you need. Return it quickly to prevent the moisture issue.