A little saffron is a treasure of good health. It protects against cancer, increases vitality, protects against cold, promotes memory and retention, and acts as a food additive also. Saffron has a bundle of healing properties and is one of the most expensive spices in the world.
The high price of pure saffron is because these are manually extracted from Crocus flowers and exists in the form of threads (minute stigmas). A huge number of flowers are processed in order to yield marketable amounts of saffron.
The handsome prices of saffron have been the top reason for its duplicity and counterfeiting. There are a lot of fake saffron available in the market which is not doing any good to your health.
The problem of fake saffron can be authenticated by the popular example of Spain. Spain is known to produce only 1.5 metric tons of saffron per year. However, there are a lot of counterfeit saffron spices and the figures depict that saffron sold under the name ‘Spanish Saffron’ is 7 metric tons.
A lot of tourists get fooled and buy fake saffron especially from Kashmir which is extremely popular for its saffron worldwide. Sellers of fake saffron know that tourists are easy targets. Fake saffron can be entirely fake or may have a few threads of pure saffron added wittingly to mislead customers.
In case you are still thinking what exactly fake saffron is then it is anything that looks similar to a saffron thread and coloured to replicate the real stuff. Corn husk is probably one of the items that look similar to saffron and it is widely available and is usually free!
It takes an eye for detail and years of experience to spot fake saffron but we give you some handy tips that will make sure that you get full value for money.
1. Taste never lies – Saffron contains Crocus compound (i.e. Crocin) which makes the taste bitter. Take 1 or 2 strands in between your teeth and taste it. If the taste is bitter, the saffron is real. Counterfeited saffron may taste sweet.
2. Colour is important – Real Saffron if mixed with hot milk or water does not leave its original (reddish colour) colour but gives a golden colour. Fake saffron threads will turn white and leave more colour.
3. Notice the texture – Real Saffron usually has low moisture and should not be dried and crisp.
4. Baking soda test – Place saffron into a mixture of soda and water. If the water turns yellow, then it is authentic saffron. If it turns reddish or brownish, then it is adulterated.
5. Smell it to be sure – Another distinct way of identifying real saffron is through its aroma. Real Saffron Aroma is a blend of Hay and Honey.
Consuming saffron might improve your health but consuming the fake counterpart might just not do anything besides putting a hole in your pockets. So, the next time you plan a trip to Srinagar and set out to purchase saffron, you now know what to look for!