Does saffron go bad?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does saffron go bad?” and tell you how long saffron lasts. We will also list down ways by which you can tell if saffron has gone bad and give you tips on how to properly store it.

Does saffron go bad?

No, saffron does not go bad but it loses its potency over time. It will lose its flavor and aroma when kept for a long time, but it will not spoil. You can use such saffron however it will not give you the same flavor profile as it would have when it was fresh.

How long does saffron last?

Saffron does not spoil as explained above. Whole saffron remains in its best quality for 2 to 3 years when stored properly. On the other hand, ground saffron can stay good for about 6-12 months.

Whole spices last a lot longer than ground spices. Probably because ground spices have a greater surface area as compared to whole spices.

You can always look for ‘best before’ or ‘sell by’ labels on the packaging of saffron. These dates give us the idea about the amount of time saffron will stay in its peak quality with maximum flavor and aroma. They do not depict spoilage. When stored properly, you can use saffron for upto a year past its best before date.

How to tell if saffron has gone bad?

Look for the following signs when you want to know whether you can use the saffron or not. When working with such an expensive spice, you should closely inspect it before throwing it out.

  • Look for any growth of mold. It really depends on the quality of the saffron. Good quality saffron has most of its moisture removed after getting treated at high temperatures. On the other hand, low quality saffron will still have its moisture.

    As we all know, moisture provides a very favorable condition for the mold to grow.
  • Look at the color or saffron. Whole saffron should be vibrant orange or crimson in color. Saffron that has lost its potency will appear dull.
  • Take some saffron and crush it between your thumb and index finger, then smell it. If you can not smell the strong earthy aroma of saffron, then it is no longer good to use.
  • Look at the saffron threads and see if they are clumped together. If they are, then saffron has gone bad. Fresh saffron will appear as separate threads which are not clumped together.

How to properly store saffron?

Saffron should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place in your pantry or the cupboard. Do not expose it to moisture, heat and light. Keep it away from your stovetop and appliances that produce heat such as the fridge. 

It is best to wrap your saffron in an aluminum foil and then place it inside an airtight container to maximize its shelf life and retain its potency.

You should also divide saffron into smaller portions and then store it so that you only use the amount needed without having to expose the rest of the saffron to moisture and air everytime you open the container. 

Read about the uses and health benefits of saffron here.

Can saffron be refrigerated?

No, you should not refrigerate saffron. There is a lot of moisture inside the fridge and saffron is extremely sensitive to moisture. It will absorb moisture and go bad. It can also get mold.

Can you freeze saffron?

If you have bought saffron in bulk, you probably want it to stay good for a long time since it is an expensive spice.

You can freeze the saffron to keep its flavor and aroma intact. However you should wrap it in aluminum foil and then place it inside a heavy duty freezer bag before placing it inside the freezer so that the saffron does not get a freezer burn.

Other FAQs about Spices that you may be interested in.

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What can I use instead of zaatar?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does saffron go bad?” and told you how long saffron lasts. We also listed down ways by which you can tell if saffron has gone bad and gave you tips on how to properly store it.