Learn how to bloom saffron in 20 minutes. This no fail technique lets you get the most out of saffron and use it in numerous recipes. I've used this technique for years and years!
Saffron is one of the must-have items in your Persian pantry and is used regularly in Persian recipes such as saffron rice, saffron chicken, sholeh zard (saffron rice pudding), and of course, saffron ice cream. In order to make the most out of this expensive spice, I'm going to show you how to bloom it. My method is easy to follow and results in a golden and aromatic saffron concentrate that you can use in lots of different recipes.
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Saffron, a Persian staple
Persian saffron is my one and only "must have" spice. I grew up in a home where my maman started making food early in the morning and the mesmerizing aroma of saffron always surrounded me, making me run into the kitchen while hypnotized by the gorgeous show of ingredients, aromas and my maman's magical hands and all the love that held us together.
A new method to bloom saffron
The way we bloom saffron in my family could be surprising for many. A common approach is to bloom it with hot water, which, in my opinion, shocks the saffron and doesn't give it enough time to bloom well.
In my kitchen, we actually sprinkle saffron on top of ice and let it melt at room temperature. Our reason for doing so is to give the saffron enough time to release its color and aroma as the ice melts. This is a no-fail method that I've been using for years and it always results in the best concentrated saffron.
To bloom saffron, you should always use ground saffron and never the threads. The traditional way to grind it is to use a pestle and mortar. Some would mix saffron threads with very little sugar and salt to make the process easier but I prefer to spend more time grinding it rather than altering the pure taste of it.
What can I make with saffron?
There is so much you can make with just a little bit of bloomed saffron. Here are a few of our favorite savory and sweet recipes using saffron:
- Marinate some chicken and make Joojeh kabab.
- Add it to soups such as roasted cauliflower soup or saffron roasted butternut squash soup.
- Use it in desserts including saffron milkshake, Persian halva, Persian love cake, saffron ice cream (bastani sonnati) or Persian love muffins.
- Make delicious rice dishes including Tahchin – Persian savory rice cake ,zereshk polo morgh - Persian barberry rice with chicken and classic saffron rice.
Frequently asked questions
Harvesting saffron in an extremely labor intensive task. Each saffron flower (known as crocus sativus) produces only 3 stigmas which are the saffron threads we use. The whole process should be done by hand because of the delicacy of the flowers. To make one ounce of saffron, 4000 saffron flowers need to be harvested.
You can keep bloomed saffron in the fridge for up to 3 days. It's best to use it by day 3, otherwise it'll start losing its flavor and aroma.
More saffron recipes
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How To Bloom Saffron
- ¼ teaspoon ground saffron never use the threads without grinding them
- 2 ice cubes
- Place the ice cubes in a small bowl or jar. Sprinkle ground saffron on top of the ice cubes and let it sit in room temperature until the ice is fully melted.
- Use immediately or cover the bowl or jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a week.
- You can use saffron in different recipes such as saffron chicken, saffron rice or saffron ice cream.
- Saffron is usually available in strands, you can use a small pestle and mortar to ground saffron.
- It's advised not to use saffron during pregnancy. Please consult with your doctor before consuming saffron if you're pregnant.
So if, for instance, my recipe calls for a teaspoon of saffron, rather than use the actual saffron, I use a teaspoon of the liquid instead. What is the ratio? Please explain more about how to use one the liquid is made. I am confused,
Hi Carol, this completely depends on the recipe, it's possible that the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon saffron, which in my opinion is a lot, unless the recipe serves 20+ people, and then instructs on how to bloom it. You can use liquid saffron (bloomed saffron in many different ways including adding it to cakes, marinades, stews, grilled chicken, etc.
Sorry, but after your ice cube blooming technique you say “use…” use what exactly? Where ever a recipe calls for a certain amount of saffron, you use this saffron water? Or are we meant to strain it and discard the liquid?
The liquid is what you need to use in any recipe that calls for saffron.
I'm looking forward to trying your method of blooming the saffron the next time I make a recipe with this spice.
Thanks for this tip! I've always soaked the saffron in hot water, but next time I'll try your blooming method.
The color and aroma will be stronger!
How much does this recipe make? like a tablespoon, two tablespoons?
About 1/4 cup!
Have just been using this recipe to prepare saffron for your No Churn Saffron Icecream, which looks amazing and is in lots of tubs in the freezer ready for a get together of 40!! Thank you for explaining how to get the most flavour from the saffron. I did struggle a bit with the measurement of the saffron though. Used loads more strands than it says on this site (and others) to get the measured 1 teaspoon of ground saffron for 4x the recipe. Am I misunderstanding something?
Hi Laura, for 1 teaspoon ground saffron you need a lot more strands, you've done it right 🙂
Can you use a spice grinder to grind the saffron? I'm sure it's not traditional, but I don't have a pestle and mortar and usually use a spice grinder (i.e. coffee grinder) for spices.
You sure can, but I'd make sure to clean it very properly before and after grinding saffron.
I've always used warm water, but I'm now very curious to try your 'blooming' method. Thank you for explaining it. LOVE this [joojeh kabab] recipe!
Thank you for the well-explained recipe. However, I think you meant "brewing saffron". Will try it next time I want to use saffron.
Both blooming and brewing would work, my method uses ice therefore I would call it blooming, if using hot water, brewing could be a term to be used.
I've never heard of this before but what a brilliant idea!
Thanks for such an informative post.