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Is Trader Joe’s Saffron Real? (Answered)

Is Trader Joe's Saffron Real

Saffron is an ancient spice that’s still very desirable today. Just five of those delicate, thin red threads make a great accompaniment to things like paella, risotto, soups, stews and many other international dishes. It adds a dash of color while providing a unique flavor. But, it’s a very expensive spice because of harvesting procedures.

So, when people find this fantastic seasoning at Trader Joe’s, they grab it because of the low price. But, is Trader Joe’s saffron real? The short answer is yes, but it’s not a high quality type of product. It’s of the lower rung but it works for those on a tight budget who want to add a little pizzazz in their cooking.

Even still, it’s important to understand that some retailers sell fake saffron. If you’re going to spend that much money on a kitchen spice, you should know what you have and how to identify it.

What is Saffron?

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Saffron is a bank-breaking and rare spice. Derived from the saffron crocus, the styles and stigma of the flower, or threads, appear as a vivid crimson-like color. Even though the flower itself is purple, careful sun or fire drying turns the threads blood red.

Procurement is a very delicate process and human hands must harvest the threads. It has a very low yield, taking about 70,000 flowers to turn out a pound of saffron, with one flower producing about three stigmas.

To check the current price and availability of Trader Joe’s Saffron, click here to view the listing on Amazon.

Origins ; Locations

We don’t know exactly where saffron originates from, but estimates place it in the regions around what used to be Mesopotamia (Iran, Iraq, Syria and etc). It grows throughout the world, but it’s best from places like Morocco, Spain and Greece.

Uses for Saffron

Regardless, saffron makes a great addition to things like soups, sauces, paella, rice dishes and casseroles. It provides color and an earthy flavor with only about five threads per dish.

Plus, it’s excellent in the beauty realm, contributing to healthy hair and youthful-looking skin.

Factors to Consider When Evaluating Saffron

Because saffron is so expensive, when you buy some, you want to ensure it’s the real deal. This means you should understand how it should appear in color. It’s also important to identify aroma, flavor and taste along with how this plays into the price.

This is because fake saffron is a real thing. If you’re not careful, you could get dyed cornhusks or safflower petals.

Quality saffron will be a deep yet rich, glowing red color. Ones with a more yellow appearance, although real, indicate a lower grade.

When you rub a piece of it between your fingers, they should turn the same color as the saffron. The threads look like little trumpets, which means it should bulge, bell or flute outward at one end.

Flavor ; Price

The taste is very earthy and husky but it has a sweet-like flavor too. But, this isn’t a sugary sweet, it’s more like a semi-bitter floral undertone. But there are also notes of hay, honey, vanilla and tobacco, albeit very faint on the palette.

Because of saffron’s harvest difficulty, it’s an expensive spice. If you buy it in season, it can cost between $7 and $10 for about 10 grams.

But, out of season, it can range anywhere between $10 to $20 for the same amount. However, it’s possible to purchase saffron for as little as $6.

Analysis of Trader Joe’s Saffron

When you come across a jar of saffron from Trader Joe’s, the price is absolutely amazing! It’s around $6 dollars for about 10 grams, which seems like a steal!

When you look on the label, it will indicate pure saffron directly from Spain. There is also a harvest date indicated, confirming its authenticity.

But, upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the lush red threads mixed in with yellow ones. As described earlier, yellow threads are a tell-all sign of lower quality. If you compare it with premium Spanish saffron, the red is a little more opulent and sumptuous.

Regardless, people swear by the product and seem to be happy with the results. There are very few complaints and only those with a preference for elite saffron mention their disappointment with the quality.

It’s also important to note that Trader Joe’s stands by their products and only stocks whole, unadulterated foods.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Saffron the Same as Spanish Saffron?

All saffron is relatively the same and differences in taste and color are slight. However, Spanish saffron is more readily available than other kinds, like Persian.

Regardless, Spanish saffron is high quality with a specific kind of dusky flavor perfect for things like paella and Spanish almond chicken.

Is McCormick Saffron Real Saffron?

By all accounts, McCormick saffron is real. But there are some people who express disappointment at the quality. So, it may be like Trader Joe’s, in that it’s real but not the best product.

How Can You Tell Good Quality Saffron?

The best way to test saffron for authenticity is to perform two tests: one with water and the other with baking soda. Using lukewarm water, place a few threads in a small container and wait about 10 to 15 minutes to an hour.

Pay attention to the speed in which the water turns yellow. If it’s immediate or it never turns yellow, the saffron isn’t real.

In the event you’re still unsure, you can mix some threads with baking soda and pour water over it. If the whole container turns yellow, it’s real saffron.

Final Thoughts

Trader Joe’s saffron is very real, it comes from Spain and many people who use it seem to love the results. But, because it mixes in with some yellow saffron threads, the quality isn’t top shelf. This is why they’re able to sell it at an incredibly cheap price, $6.

While this is excellent for tight budgets, there are far better products on the market. They are expensive but worth it since saffron gives sauce, rice and soup that lovely flavor and color.


Shane is a fitness enthusiast who also has a passion for trying and cooking new foods. His favorite stores to shop at include Trader Joe's, Wholefoods Market, Sprouts, Stater Brothers, and Target.

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