FAQ – Rumi Spice

Frequently Asked Questions

What is saffron?

Saffron is a spice derived from the stigmas of the flower, Crocus Sativus. Saffron, also known as "red gold," is the most valuable spice in the world. It is handpicked and requires almost 175,000 flowers to create a single kilogram of this premium spice. The raw and vibrant flavors create a dispersion of intensity throughout any dish, both sweet and savory.

What does saffron taste like?

Saffron has a delicate, sweet, floral taste to it. It's earthy with a complex nuanced flavor. Saffron works especially well when paired with other mild flavors, allowing its complex rich flavor to shine through. Saffron works well in dishes that feature rice (such as paella), pasta, delicate proteins like seafood or chicken, and milk or cream-based dishes (like ice cream, cream sauces, or milk tea).

How do I use saffron?

With the aroma and flavor profile of Rumi Spice saffron, you only need to use a small pinch, about 8-10 threads per recipe.

To bloom saffron or steep the saffron: Add a few tablespoons of warm (not boiling) water to the saffron threads in a small dish. Let the threads soak in water for about 10 minutes. You should see a golden hue begin to emerge in the water. After the saffron is finished steeping add the saffron liquid to whatever you're cooking, such as risotto, paella, or soup. If making a dish or sauce requiring wine, infuse the saffron directly in wine. The compounds are drawn out even further, and the flavor profile is more pronounced.

Another way to bring out the full flavor profile of saffron is to crush the threads with a mortar and pestle to a powder-like consistency. We suggest this for non-liquid recipes or baking.

I see that your saffron is rated Category 1 – what does that mean?

Category 1 saffron is the top rating under the International Organization for Standardization test ISO 3632. It is a two-part test of saffron purity and quality. You can read more about the testing parameters here.

How is saffron harvested and processed?

The Crocus sativus, or saffron flower, blooms early in the morning around late October and early November for a few weeks every year. Our farmers and harvesters gather these saffron blossoms by hand in the early morning hours and take them directly to local processing centers. Here the three stigmas of each flower are carefully plucked before being dried at low temperatures and undergoing several rounds of cleaning, all again by hand.

What is the difference between saffron and safflower?

Saffron has a much bolder flavor profile than safflower and is generally much more desirable to cook with. Safflower is a member of the daisy family - dried flowers from this plant impart the characteristic yellow color of saffron into foods, but they have little to no flavor. On the other hand, saffron has a subtle earthy and sweet aroma with a complex, floral taste. 

Why is saffron so expensive?

Saffron has long been considered the most expensive spice in the world due to its incredibly laborious harvesting and cleaning processes. It takes over 150,000 blossoms to get one kilo of saffron, and each stigma (or saffron thread) must be handpicked and sorted throughout the entire process. It is a delicate and beautiful spice that has been treasured by kings and queens for millennia and will likely only get more expensive as minimum wages rise in the countries that grow and harvest saffron.

I have seen cheaper saffron – why is Rumi Saffron more expensive?

Unless you are buying saffron directly from a farmer you know, Rumi is the only vertically integrated saffron company, meaning that we know exactly what hands our saffron is in before it reaches you. This is incredibly important in the saffron world, where so much saffron is adulterated by the time it reaches the store shelves. We have seen saffron adulterated with safflower and even dyed paper shreds. Check out our water test to see what top-quality saffron should look like. 

How should I store my saffron?

Store your saffron in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. For maximum flavor, use your saffron within 6 months. Saffron will not spoil but it will lose its flavor with age.

Pictures I see online of black cumin show it being completely black. Rumi Afghan black cumin looks dark brown. Can you explain the difference?

What you probably see online when you look up 'Black Cumin' are actually Nigella Sativa seeds, a completely different plant and spice of pure black, pyramidal-shaped seeds. Nigella Sativa is commonly called 'black cumin' although it is not at all related to cumin, which causes confusion. Rumi Black Cumin, is indeed brown, though a darker brown and smaller seed than traditional cumin, giving it the name 'Black Cumin.' Rumi Black Cumin is wild-harvested. It is a species related to the traditional cumin seen in stores, but with a bolder and more earthy and piney aroma.

Are your spices certified organic?

Currently, our spices are not certified organic, although the growing and harvesting practices of our spices are either wild (as is the case for our black cumin and fennel), or done in such a way that they would qualify for organic certification. Logistically, getting organic certifiers to our small farms in Afghanistan is a challenging task, but one we hope to be able to accomplish in the future.

What are the small thin stick-like pieces in my Herati Coriander?

The small thin sticks you may find in our coriander (and in any other coriander) are little stalks that are connected to the individual seeds. During the cleaning process, we try to remove as many of the stalks as possible without risking cracking the coriander seeds, but some always find their way through the sieve and into the final product. This is normal and they are perfectly safe to eat.

How is coriander harvested?

During the coriander harvest, coriander plants are cut and gathered into small stacks before being threshed to remove the fruits (or seeds). These fruits are then winnowed, cleaned, and air-dried, with the resulting product after a few days being dried coriander seed.

How do you ensure Rumi spices are safe to consume?

We steam sterilize our black cumin, fennel, and coriander. Steam sterilization is considered a natural sterilization method that removes all bacteria and other living organisms from the products. Black cumin, fennel, and coriander are hardy enough seeds to withstand steam sterilization without any damage to the product. 

Saffron, on the other hand, is too delicate to be steam-sterilized. Our saffron handling and processing methods are therefore carefully controlled throughout harvest and processing to ensure that the end product is pathogen-free. We also test all lots of saffron when after processing to guarantee that our quality handling and processing methods meet all USDA standards.

Are your spices gluten free?

Yes, all our spices, including saffron, are naturally gluten-free. In order to bring our customers the lowest prices possible, we do not invest in ‘gluten-free’ labeling certifications/logos.

I love your mission - how can I help?

First of all, we are thankful for all of our customers and Rumi fans – we wouldn't be able to do this without you. Simply telling your friends about Rumi products and cooking meals for your family and friends with our spices helps us immensely. We also love seeing pictures of what you are cooking up so keep sharing on our Instagram or Facebook pages @rumi_spice.

Where can I buy your products?

Aside from the Rumi online store, you can purchase our products on Amazon and at Whole Foods nationwide as well as regional retailers in most of the country.

How did the brand get the name Rumi?

Rumi is a world-renowned Persian poet, born over 800 years ago. Rumi lived in Afghanistan and we wanted to showcase the positive aspects of Afghanistan, like the world's most famous poet and philosopher and the world's best saffron. We also love his philosophy on the connectedness of peoples, which remains a large part of our mission. 

Do you ship internationally?

At this time we are not able to offer international shipping and can only ship to the US. If you have a question about larger orders, please reach out to us directly at sales@rumispice.com and we will see if we can meet your request.

How can I track my order?

Your tracking number will be included in your shipment confirmation email. If you are still unable to locate your order, please reach out to us at orders@rumispice.com.

Something in my package was damaged or missing – how do I get a replacement?

First of all, we are sorry that you have received a damaged product. Please send us an email with your order number in the subject line and information on what product was damaged to customerservice@rumispice.com and we will reach out to you within 24 hours (M-F) to correct the issue.

SIGN UP & Save

Save 15% on your first order, and get access to exclusive recipes, cooking tips, announcements, and more!