Saffron Vs Safflower: 4 Key Differences Between The Ingredients
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Without a doubt, saffron is the most costly spice in the entire world. The problem of saffron adulteration was so bad in the Middle Ages that anyone found guilty of it was executed. Despite their similar names, safflower is not related to saffron. Safflower petals can be used as a spice and to provide a bright yellow colour. Some cooks substitute safflower for saffron. To the untrained eye, saffron and safflower are similar enough that they can be confused. However, the two comparable ingredients have some major distinctions.

Saffron, also known as saffron crocus, is a spice made from the flowers of the Crocus sativus plant. Saffron is a spice obtained from the stigmas of the Crocus sativus plant. Threads, which are the vibrant crimson stigma and styles, are harvested and dried primarily for use as a food colouring in seasoning. This spice is available all year and can be purchased in golden-red strands or ground. Saffron was discovered in Asia. For thousands of years, people in this region have used saffron in perfumes, medicines, colours, flavourings, and food.

On the other hand, safflower, also known as Carthamus tinctorius, is an herbaceous, highly branching plant of the sunflower family Asteraceae. It resembles a thistle in appearance. The safflower plant is grown for vegetable oil. The seeds are used to obtain safflower oil. The early Spanish colonies along the Rio Grande utilised safflower as a substitute for saffron. Safflower plants range in height from 12 to 59 inches and have globular flower heads. The blossoms might be yellow, orange, or red in hue.

What separates the two similar ingredients:

  1. While the spices appear similar, saffron flowers are distinct from safflowers. The blossoms of the saffron crocus are purple with distinct scarlet stigmas, but the safflower plant has yellow petals and heavily branching stems.
  2. Saffron is a pricey spice even if the majority of recipes only call for a little amount of it. Because its flowers yield so little saffron, harvesters must manually gather the flowers. Safflower, also known as the ‘poor man’s saffron’, can be used in recipes in place of expensive saffron because the two spices have a similar colour.
  3. The flavour and aroma of saffron are earthy and somewhat spicy. Safflower, on the other hand, has a mild flavour and a somewhat nutty scent.
  4. Safflower and saffron are mostly distinguished by how they are used in cooking. Saffron is frequently used as a spice, but safflower is a common cooking oil.