Does saffron expire?

Saffron shelf life (in the fridge), Does dry saffron expire

is expired saffron harmful? How long does unopened saffron last, how to use expired saffron

Does saffron expire? What is the shelf life of saffron?

One of the main questions people ask before purchasing saffron is how long it lasts. So, we decided to lay down everything you need to know about saffron shelf life in the fridge or a dark cabinet.

  • How long does unopened saffron last?
  • Does dry saffron expire?
  • If so, is expired saffron harmful?
  • How can you use expired saffron?

If you are struggling with the same questions, keep reading!

Should I be worried about saffron shelf life?

You may ask yourself the same question: saffron is expensive and bought in tiny quantities. So, why should you be worried about its shelf life? Such an amount of spice can be used in a matter of days.

Well, that’s where you are wrong. Saffron adds flavour, colour, aroma, and a unique signature to different foods and drinks. And just a pinch of it goes a long way. So, you can purchase only 10 grams of saffron and use it for years!

That’s why it’s essential to know whether saffron expires or not and how long you can store it. Therefore, the next time you purchase saffron, you know exactly how much to buy, so it doesn’t go bad.

How long does unopened saffron last?

Saffron shelf life depends on many factors, such as:

  • Whether it’s whole (threads) or ground (powder)
  • How and where do you keep it
  • Its quality

Now let’s see how each of these factors can affect saffron shelf life:


High-quality saffron is dry. So, never fall for moist saffron. Some vendors claim to be fresh. Soaked saffron will go rancid in a matter of days and is more likely to grow mold. Quality saffron will be dried at high temperatures after cultivation. So, if your saffron is dried it’s not a sign of bad quality or old spice. Instead, it shows a spice of superior grade.

Saffron threads or powder

We always recommend whole saffron overground type. Saffron shelf life increases in the form of entire strands. The threads can keep their aroma and flavour for about three years, while ground (powder) saffron preserves its quality for only 6 to 12 months.

So, if you are planning on keeping your spice for a while, purchasing the threads in the whole form is better. In addition to that, powder saffron is more easily adulterated than its whole. As a result, another way to make sure you’re purchasing high-quality saffron is to look for the spice in the form of threads rather than powder.


Whole saffron will last about two years. However, if you keep it in proper circumstances, it’ll last a year or so longer. Many argue about saffron shelf life in the fridge. If you want to save costs, it’s a good idea to purchase saffron in bulk and freeze it. However, keep the following tips in mind when you do so:

  1. Divide saffron into one-off use portions. In this way, you don’t need to defrost the whole thread each time you want to make something. And as a result, lower saffron shelf life.
  2. Keep the spice from light, moisture, and air by wrapping the threads in a foil.
  3. Then put the foil in a clean and dry container. Make sure it’s fully dry because moisture is the number of cause of saffron going bad.
  4. To use saffron, let it rest at room temperature to thaw.

Check out our article on the Can You Harvest Your Own Saffron?

All that can help storing saffron in a better condition. However, the best way to store saffron is a dark and dry place at room temperature. Why? Because freezer has more moisture than a dry cabinet. So, the strands are more likely to absorb moisture and go bad when kept in the freezer or fridge rather than cabinet.

Does dry saffron expire?

Well, unlike other edibles, saffron doesn’t go bad or expire. When we use the term “expire” for foods, it means they are no longer useable. But dry saffron can be used for years without going bad. However, it doesn’t mean saffron won’t change at all. Over the years saffron will lose its freshness, aroma, flavor, and even color!

So, although you can use saffron even after it expires, don’t expect it to be the aromatic and beneficial spice you bought in the first place. After about 3 years of storing saffron, you’ll basically have colorful strands to add to your foods. So, it’s better to use saffron 2 to 3 years after purchase.

Is expired saffron harmful?

Using expired saffron is neither harmful nor beneficial. However, some factors can affect saffron quality sooner than you expect. Saffron shelf life can decrease if exposed to:

  • Direct sun light
  • Humid environment
  • Heat
  • Oxygen

It’s better to keep saffron in its original packaging or in an air-tight container in a dark cabinet at room temperature. If you do so, you can be sure that it’ll stay fresh for at least 2 years.

If you want to get the most out of saffron and benefit from it, it is better to use it in the first three years of purchase.

How to tell if saffron has gone bad

Now, you know the answer to “does saffron expire?”

Although saffron does not expire, it can spoil. And it’s pretty easy to tell whether saffron has gone bad or not. Saffron has such strong aroma, color, and flavor that you can tell if it has expired or not just by considering these factors. So, the next time you want to use or purchase saffron, keep an eye on these elements:

  • Expiration date: If the saffron you’re purchasing or using dates three years ago, you’d better opt for another one and discard it.
  • Color: Fresh saffron threads are red in color and their tips are golden-yellow. If your saffron has lost its signature color, using it will leave a bland dish at best.
  • Aroma: Rub a few strands of saffron between your fingers to see whether they still have their unique aroma or not. If there’s no significant scent to speak of, your spice has lost its potency.
  • Taste: Although the above elements are hard to miss, if you still couldn’t tell whether the threads are fresh or not, taste them. it’s hard to describe saffron taste. But as they say, you know it when you taste it.

Check out our article on the How Is Saffron Harvested?

How to use expired saffron

Using old saffron is no different from fresh saffron. Unless your threads show signs of spoilage, it’s totally safe to use them even past three years. You can brew saffron in water just like you always do. the only difference is you may not get the rich color and strong aroma as you would get from fresh saffron.

Regardless of saffron shelf life, it’s better to always purchase the amount of saffron you would need in a year to get the most out of the threads.


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