Saffron is a spice that is known for its ability to provide an attractive color and an appealing flavor to various dishes, including Spanish paella and Indian biryani. You can buy it in powder form, or you can buy saffron threads. It is important to note the difference between these forms as you will need to use less powder than you would threads.
Saffron has a taste that many people enjoy when it is used precisely; it is not one of those spices where a little more of it makes the dish even better. The flavor of excess saffron has been described as bitter, metallic, and even likened to the taste of chlorine; however, all is not lost if you have made a dish that contains too much saffron. Consider a few of your options for rescuing the meal.
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Dilution is the simplest and most effective way to deal with too much saffron, especially since throwing out a dish with too much saffron will be unfeasible for most of us due to the spice’s high cost. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, which means that throwing the whole dish out can mean wasting a significant amount of money.
The most economical method of dilution is to remove half of the dish with too much saffron and freeze it for use in the future. To the remaining half, you can add enough of the ingredients (apart from saffron) to make a full recipe. This allows you to protect your saffron investment while reducing its concentration in your dish.
The other option is simply to add more ingredients to make a larger batch. This method will reduce the saffron concentration as well, but you will wind up with more food. The method you choose depends on the expense and availability of the other ingredients.
Because excessive saffron is known to be toxic, dilution is the best solution to use to avoid saffron poisoning. Saffron poisoning can cause vomiting, dizziness along with bleeding from the nose and lips.
The bitterness that comes when too much saffron is best counteracted with sweetness. To your dish, add whichever sweetener best complements the overall flavor profile. Your options include honey, agave nectar, and sugar.
Note that too much of any sweetener can ruin a savory dish, which means that your best option is to use this method in combination with another method or when the saffron is only mildly bitter. In a dessert, adding more sweetener is not quite as risky.
Add more of the complementary spices
Saffron is almost never used alone. It is most commonly used in Middle Eastern and Indian dishes that rely on the careful coordination of numerous pungent spices. Examples of other spices used alongside saffron are fenugreek and tamarind; either of these can help to mask it. Use a little more of the other flavors than your recipe requires.
Note that you will want to do this cautiously to avoid over-spicing your dish. Focus on the spices that are less likely to increase the bitterness that the excess saffron brings.