mes macchi


July 6, 2010


Macchi Inc.’s Saffron – by Montreal Photographer Vadim Daniel

The quality of any spice is usually something that is very difficult for the end consumer to determine. I will do my best to try to give you some valuable tips and tricks to keep in mind when you are purchasing your saffron

So let’s start with this….

How to know a better quality saffron and why should you pay more, when you can pay less.

As I mentioned yesterday; Saffron is slightly bitter in it’s flavor, but if you add the right amount during preparation that flavor does not over power the other ingredients it is actually so subtle that something as mild as cream is enough to “hide” the bitterness of saffron. It is the aroma and the extremely overpowering and magical color that we want to experience.

Saffron is sold in two different “shapes”, you can get it in, tiny “threads” or powdered. I have over the years heard that some people prefer to get the filaments ( threads) because they can ensure the quality and authenticity of the saffron, i would have to disagree. Which ever one you choose to use make sure it is in a a sealed container or a pouch that has the name of a company and a product description in the back and don’t forget to check the best-before-date!

The intensity of the color is usually the first and most accurate “give-away” to know a good quality saffron. Buy buying a lesser quality you will have to use twice the amount and that can sometimes increase the risks of your dish tasting bitter.

Why is it so expensive?

Saffron is the dried stigmas of the saffron flower, these threads must be picked by hand from each flower, and more than 75,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one pound (0,44 kg) of Saffron filaments, 40 hours of labour are needed to pick 150,000 flowers! The retail price of saffron is aprox. US$ 1,000/pound ( US$ 2,200/kg). Don’t let these prices scare you though!
Remember all we need is 0.1 gram (0.0001 kg) for 4 people.

The saffron that we supply at Macchi Inc. is the one in the powdered format and it says on the packaging “Il fior fiore dello Zafferano”. It can for retail be found at Marche Milano and La Baia both stores are in Montreal. Each package is in a 0.125g format which is the calculated amount for one portion, which makes it so easy to use in cooking and baking, both for home and public kitchens.

Use saffron in cream based or tomato based pasta sauces, it can be used in soups as well as in stews. Saffron also gives rice a beautiful color and it is often used in baking. In Sweden, where I am born and raised, we make these delicious “buns” called “Saffrans Bullar” (Saffron Buns). It has become tradition to have them made for November 13, when we celebrate the Italian saint “Santa Lucia” and they are absolutely delicious!

Because of this, saffron has a huge impact in my life and gives me a lot of dear memories and sentiment.

I wish for you to now, bring saffron into your home, find your favorite recipes and make your own memories for you and your family….


  • domenico armeni

    Hi paola!Thank you for these knowable tips on how to to distinguish and buy a good saffron,I personnally use the spice in a lot of my pasta and risotto dishes,but having said that can you please share the recipe of your famous Santa Lucia buns,apart for having a profound passion for my cooking I started as a baker learning trade the from my father from the young age of 12 and therfore also have a passion for baking,,,more for sentimental reason thanks Paolo keep up the good work.

  • MrsMacchi

    Hi Domenico,
    It gives me great pleasure to hear that you are enjoying my posts and I was really excited to hear that you wanted the recipes for the “Saffron buns”, because the plan was to share that recipe with all of you today. Unfortunately, my attempt in making them was unsuccesfull! I’m guessing that’s what I get for making “November buns” in August =)!
    Just to clear some confusion, this is MrsMacchi blogging for you and I am looking forward to hear more from you. Wishing you a wonderful day!

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