Is your saffron pure?


How to Check Purity of Saffron: – Saffron is the world’s most expensive herb. A lot of people proclaim that they have found a great deal on saffron while travelling on a vacation. But most of them do not know that if it’s inexpensive, then it’s probably not saffron. There is a lot of fake saffron out there. You must know what you are actually looking for.

In order to understand counterfeit saffron, it is important to understand the make-up of the actual saffron plant. It is the easiest way for you to know whether you are buying a good quality saffron or not.

Commercial saffron comes from the red stigmas of Crocus sativus. The flower grows in the fall in many countries, including Iran, Greece, India and Spain. There are three stigmas in each of the saffron crocus flowers. These stigmas are the only part, when dried properly, become commercial saffron. Each of the red stigmas is like a closed box that encloses the chemicals that make up saffron’s distinct aroma, flavour, and yellow colour.

Saffron threads have a bitter flavour and a pungent aroma. The colour is due to carotenoid crocin, taste due to picrocrocin and flavour due to volatile oil safranal. While evidence of saffron adulteration dates back to the middle ages, common adulteration nowadays includes pomegranate, beets, red dyes silk fibres, or tasteless, odourless, yellow coloured stamens of the crocus flower.

The popular saffron adulteration these days is done using corn hair or dried tendrils of maize cob. Hair or tendrils are completely dried and coloured with artificial colour (light saffron) to make it look like a real saffron. Then, they are sold at high prices under the name of saffron.


In order to check Purity of saffron, there are few simple, genuine and interesting tests which you can do at home.  

Genuine saffron does not break like artificial. 

  • Try breaking a saffron thread.
  • Genuine saffron does not break easily on pressing whereas artificial one easily.
  • Crumbles under pressure.

 Try dissolving saffron in water. 

  • If the colour dissolves instantly, then the saffron is adulterated.
  • On the other hand, genuine saffron releases colour after a long time, slowly, and is much stronger in colour compared to adulterated saffron.

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About the author

Being an avid reader and a science enthusiast, Poonam hopes to create awareness about the need of testing and calibration services in India.