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1. Trumpet, Trumpet, Trumpet! Saffron stigma threads have a trumpet shape and no matter how it has been harvested the size of saffron stigmas still should hold their trumpet shape.
2. It’s always better to buy saffron in stigma form and not the powder or liquid extracts. With 2 spoon fulls of saffron stigmas you can easily make your own saffron powder.
3. Saffron coloring is another way to tell if you have a good quality of saffron or not. Simply put 4 or 5 saffron stigmas in warm water. Real saffron begins to release its pure yellow pigment and remains that color for 10 to 15 minute. After 30 minutes it begins to turn lightly orange. Fake saffron immediately turns to dark orange and becomes darker once immersed in water. Please keep in mind that today's fake saffron can be made of shredded dried beef meat, coconut hair or corn hair all mixed with artificial saffron flavor and color and can even be sold as big name brands for less than $45 per ounce.
4. After placing saffron stands in half a cup of warm water the shape of saffron stigmas should not change at all and again should keep the trumpet shape even after few days in the water. If you see the saffron is opening even slightly, like a tea leaf, then that is not saffron.
5. Sunlight negatively and quickly affects saffron stigmas, which is why it should be harvested before 8AM to avoid burning, drying out, loss of fragrance and to keep its maximum flavor. After harvesting, saffron should be dried to prevent molding. In the fake saffron market, in order to reach saffron's true density they add materials such as paraffin, along with food coloring, to add weight. Again after the saffron is placed into water if you see any fat, even a minimum amount on top of the water, that is fake saffron.
6. At Cyrus Saffron we believe saffron should not be kept in plastic containers or bags of any kind. The best way to store the saffron is in glass jars or tin containers keeping it in a dark dry place at room temperature, such as the kitchen cabinet.
Saffron Authentication Test
Some may even mix corn crest (corn silk) and coconut filaments with synthetic saffron color and essence. Because these filaments look so much like saffron when processed they add it to real saffron to increase the yield. But with a keen eye and knowledge you can distinguish artificial saffron from pure saffron using these additional methods; pure saffron has a crown-like head, fake saffron has a flat or shapeless head. Saffron thickness is not the same from top to bottom, it increases from the base to the head. Fake saffron has consistent thickness throughout the filaments.
Fake ‘plastic’ Saffron that has been artifically coloured and flavoured. This will dissolve in warm water after several minutes.Fake Saffron will release its colour more rapidly than the real item. Good saffron can take anything from 15 minutes to an hour to release the golden hue. Artificially coloured saffron look-alikes release a redder colour, and the aroma is like sandalwood (if it has any aroma at all)
Safflower herbs are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron, and are sometimes referred to as the "bastard saffron".
In coloring textiles, safflower's dried flowers are used as a natural textile dye. The pigment in safflower is the benzoquinone-derived chemical carthamin and it is classified as a quinone-type dye. It is a direct dye which is also known as CI Natural Red 26. Yellow, mustard, khaki, and olive are the most common colors in textiles. Even bright reds and purples can be reached using alkaline processing. Indians used this red dye as their official red tape on legal documents.All hydrophilic fibers (allnatural fibers, such as cotton, wool, etc.) may be dyed with this plant. Polyamide textiles can also be dyed without a mordantagent because of its wool-like chemical structure. Polyester, polyacrylonitrile, and others which are hydrophobic synthetic fibers can be dyed only in the presence of a mordant.
Safflower concentrate is an ingredient of the carbonated soft drink Tizer and some types of Sunkist.
Ancient Egyptians found the flower pleasing to the eye and included it in garlands placed on mummies. Dried safflower flowers honglanhua, caohonghua, cihonghua) are used in traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate pain, increase circulation, and reduce bruising.They are included in herbal remedies for menstrual pain and minor physical trauma. In India, the flowers are used for their laxative and diaphoretic properties, and are also used for children's complaints of measles, fevers and eruptive skin conditions.