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Understand the Quality of Saffron (kesar) with these 3 Tests

saffron quality

One of the most exquisite ingredients used in most several foods, especially in desserts, is Saffron. Obtained from a particular flower, Saffron is the costliest spice by weight you can find across the globe. When added to the foods, it not only imparts a warm, golden color but also enhances the dishes’ taste and texture. This is why so many food experts use a pinch of saffron strands or saffron milk to bring out a unique food dish. How to check the quality of Saffron?

Now, since Saffron is so costly, everyone must check whether the spice is pure or not. Adulterations in food items are common nowadays, and hence, you should be aware of such a pricey food ingredient’s purity statement.

In this article, we have described some of the most efficient test methods you can employ to check whether the Saffron you have bought is wholly pure or not.

Testing Saffron’s purity with cold water

The most suitable method to test the purity index of Saffron is through cold water. Based on the result, you will be able to deduce whether the ingredient is adulterated or not.


  • Take a small bowl and put cold water in it. Make sure the temperature of the liquid is below room temperature but not out.
  • Let the water come to a standstill, and then add a few strands of the Saffron.
  • Allow the Saffron to rest in water. Do not stir or disturb the arrangement as that might hamper the test results.


  • Wait for a few minutes and allow the saffron strands to change the color of the water.
  • If the change is almost instant, it means that the Saffron is adulterated and fake. Instead of bright yellow, the color of the water will be red or orange.
  • In case the color doesn’t change instantly, it means the Saffron is pure. So, please do not take out the strands and allow them to soak in the water.
  • After 5 to 6 minutes, you will find the water turning pale yellow. After another 10 minutes, the color will change to a bright yellow color. This indicates a hundred percent purity of Saffron.
  • Another factor you have to notice is the color of the strands. After the water changes its color, pure Saffron will still retain its bright orange shade. However, the fake saffron strands will become white or grayish due to the loss of artificial colors.

Rubbing saffron strands between fingers

Another fantastic way to test the saffron strands’ purity is by rubbing them in between your fingers.


Soak the saffron strands in water and leave them for a few seconds. Once done, take a few strands in between your fingers and rub them slowly.


If the Saffron is pure, you will find the strands are intact despite rubbing them between the fingers. The strands will not break under pressure. However, if the strands break or become dusty, they are fake and have been prepared artificially.

Testing saffron by the taste

The last method of testing the purity of the Saffron is by its taste. Take a pinch of the spice and place it on your tongue. Do not chew it. Just allow the taste buds to detect the flavor.

Pure Saffron will never taste sweet. Instead, they will have a lovely fragrance but a slightly bitter taste. As for the fake saffron strands, you will instantly get a sweet burst of flavors as soon as you put the strands in your mouth.


Saffron is a very delicate spice, yet it can change the flavor and texture of an entire dish. This is why it is imperative to ensure that the strands you are using are pure and without an ounce of artificial products. Always buy Saffron from trusted brands and make sure it is tested for quality under ISO3632. After all, distinguishing between real and fake Saffron just by looking at the strands is nearly impossible. So rather than wasting your time, you can exercise caution while buying the costliest spice.

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