How to use Saffron

The three main components of saffron are: crocin, which accounts for the yellow pigmentation from the stigmas; picrocrocin, which gives the rusty, bittersweet flavour; and safranal, which lends the sweet earthy fragrance to the spice. Saffron threads need moisture to release these chemical components.

The most effective way to draw out the colour and flavour of saffron is to crush the saffron threads with your fingers and steep the saffron threads in a little warm water, stock, milk or white wine for at least an 1 hour before using.

Soaking the saffron before adding it to your recipe is the best way to ensure that it’s distributed evenly throughout the dish.

You can usually tell that your saffron has soaked long enough when the liquid gives off a strong sweet, straw like aroma and the liquid has changed to a beer like colour.  

Saffron can also be toasted in a dry pan with other spices , this method is often used in Indian Cuisine. When using this method, care is needed to ensure the threads are not over cooked.

The flavour of saffron needs time to develop , this is why a saffron infused dish often tastes stronger the day after it was prepared.

Flavours that complement Saffron



Australian Native ingredients that complement Saffron    




A marriage of flavours using local artisan ingredients .
You can often find all three of us as stallholders at the TALBOT FARMERS MARKET held on the 3rd Sunday of each month in Talbot, Victoria

Serves 4 people


8 cups good quality chicken stock
100 milligrams Squirrel Gully Saffron ( approx. 12 saffron threads )
Small bunch of fresh thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cups Arborio rice
¼ cup parmesan, grated
Sea salt
3 large cloves Springmount Fine Foods black garlic, peeled and sliced
200 grams Oakwood Smallgoods Co. house smoked salmon, skin and bones removed and flaked into chunks
1 cup plain flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
4 cups vegetable oil 


In a large pot, simmer the chicken stock with the saffron and fresh thyme
In a separate heavy based saucepan, sauté the onions in olive oil.
Add the Arborio rice and stir with a wooden spoon to coat the rice in oil.
Slowly add in the hot chicken and saffron stock , one ladle at a time, letting the stock absorb before adding any more. Continue to stir the rice as you incorporate the remaining stock.
When the rice is cooked, add parmesan and sea salt to taste.
Fold the smoked salmon and black garlic through the rice
Cool the risotto slightly before moulding the mix into small balls with your hands . Roll the risotto balls in flour , then egg and breadcrumbs.
Heat oil to 180° C in a deep fryer. Fry the arancini in small batches for 4 mins or until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately. 


A recipe shared by award winning chef, Steve Davidson of Trofeo Estate on the Mornington Peninsula

Serves 2 - 3 people


500 grams potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon Squirrel Gully Sofrito Salt
60 grams plain flour
60 grams semolina (fine)
60 grams Manchego Cheese, grated
1 egg yolk

For the sauce :
50 ml Olive Oil 
2 tablespoons baby capers
1 small red chilli, deseeded and sliced
100 grams butter
150 grams pistachio nuts, shelled and roughly chopped
200 grams smoked trout, skin and bones removed then flaked
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
small handful of roughly chopped dill
Juice of 1 lemon


Bring water to the boil in a pot over high heat . Place the potatoes in a metal steaming basket and steam over the boiling water for 20 mins or until tender. Once cooked, pass the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl. Season with sofrito salt. While the potato is still warm, combine flour, semolina, Manchego cheese and egg into the mix by hand. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead gently until smooth. Roll dough into thin sausage like logs and cut into 2cm long pieces

Bring a fresh pot of salted water to the boil, drop gnocchi into the water in batches and cook for approx. 3 mins or until they rise to the surface. Use a slotted spoon to remove the gnocchi from the pot and set aside in a clean bowl. Drizzle with olive oil to prevent the gnocchi sticking together

In a separate heavy based frying pan, heat the olive oil. Fry capers and chilli until the capers become crisp on the edges. Lower the heat and add butter to create a beurre noisette. Toast the pistachios in the butter briefly before adding the gnocchi, smoked trout, cherry tomatoes and dill. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. 


This recipe was shared by Karen Martini at the Loddon Valley Food and Wine festival we attended in 2019

Serves: 4 people


2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1.4–1.6 kg chicken, cut into 8 pieces
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 brown onions, thickly sliced
100 grams ginger, cut into matchsticks
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
2 small red chillies, split
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
100mg Squirrel Gully Saffron 
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons honey
100 grams currants
2 tablespoons vegetable stock powder
½ bunch coriander, leaves only
couscous or rice, to serve


Combine the salt, cumin, cinnamon, pepper and turmeric in a large plastic bag. Add the chicken pieces and shake to coat. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, adding a little more oil, if necessary. Add the tomatoes, saffron threads, cumin seeds and thyme and cook for 2 minutes.

 Return the chicken to the pan and add the lemon juice and zest, honey, currants, stock powder and enough water to just cover the chicken. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 15- 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through, and the sauce is slightly reduced.Stir in the coriander and serve with couscous or rice.


Seared Tuna with spring salad and saffron honey mayo

A deliciously versatile mayonnaise made with
our saffron and fennel scented honey 

Serves 2 people​                                                         


300 grams sashimi grade Tuna
2 tablespoons salt flakes
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
For the Spring Salad:
1 fennel bulb, finely shaved
4 spears asparagus, finely shaved
30 grams candied orange peel
Handful of roquette and fresh mint leaves
For the saffron and fennel honey mayonnaise :
2 whole eggs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
10 ml apple cider vinegar
20 ml lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
300 ml veg oil
2 tablespoons of Squirrel Gully saffron and fennel honey
2 tablespoons Grano parmesan, finely grated                            


Prepare the candied orange peel by removing the rind with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler. Use a filleting knife to remove any white pith from the underside of the rind and cut into 1mm thin strips. In a small saucepan, boil the orange peel in water for 5 mins. Discard the water and boil again for 10 minutes in sugar syrup made with equal parts sugar and water. Remove the orange peel from the syrup, drain and store in a jar of caster sugar. Allow the candied orange peel to dry out in the sugar for a few days before using     

In a food processor, blend the whole eggs, mustard, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and salt with a splash of cold water. Blend for approx. 1 minute. Slowly add the vegetable oil in a steady stream while the machine is running. Lastly, add the Squirrel Gully saffron and fennel honey and parmesan. Continue to mix for a further 1 minute until thoroughly blended. Saffron mayo will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for 14 days.

Grind the salt flakes and fennel seeds in a mortar with a pestle. Keep the seeds fairly coarse. Coat the outside of the tuna steak in the salt and fennel mix. Heat a heavy based frying pan to searing point, very briefly sear the outer edge of the tuna until the fennel seeds are aromatic and a crust has formed on the fish. To serve, combine the shaved fennel and asparagus in a small mixing bowl with the candied orange, fresh mint and roquette leaves. Serve the tuna with the spring salad and a dollop of saffron honey mayo on the side

Squirrel Gully SAFFRON LiMONcello

If your lemon tree has delivered a bumper harvest as ours has, here's an excellent way to put them to good use and continue the party long into winter.

Makes 1.5 litres


6 lemons
750 ml boiled water
300 grams sugar
500 ml Vodka
150 milligrams Squirrel Gully Saffron,
(approx. 1 tablespoon or 25 threads )                                                                           

Thoroughly wash your lemons to remove any wax or residue. Use a sharp paring knife or potato peeler to remove the rind. Take time to remove all pith from the underside with a knife as this will make your limoncello bitter. In a saucepan, make a simple sugar syrup by boiling the water and sugar over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Sterilize a large glass jar with an airtight lid. Combine the cooled sugar syrup, Vodka, lemon rind and saffron threads in the jar, stir then seal tightly.      Allow the mix to infuse for 30 days before serving.

Squirrel Gully Lemoncello


Serves: 4 people


8 zucchini flowers 
Halloumi cheese, cut into 2cm x 1cm squares 
A pinch of fennel seeds 
100 milligrams Squirrel Gully Saffron  (approx 12 threads )
ea salt 
To make the batter: 
1 egg, separated 
1 cup chilled water 
3/4 cup plain flour 
A pinch of bicarb of soda 
500ml vegetable oil to shallow fry 
Squeeze of lemon juice


Gently remove the yellow stamen from the centre of the zucchini flower, insert a cube of halloumi cheese and carefully twist the ends to encase the cheese inside the flower . Heat oil to 180°C in a large pot or deep fryer. Meanwhile, grind the saffron, fennel seeds and sea salt in a mortar with a pestle. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg and iced water together. Add the plain flour, bicarb of soda and the ground saffron salt mix. Coat each zucchini flower in batter and fry in oil for approx. 4 minutes or until crispy and the cheese has started to melt. Drain on paper towel. Season with another sprinkle of sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon.



These pears can be enjoyed in cakes and desserts and the syrup can be added to cocktails .

Serves 4 People 


6 pears, peeled, quartered and seeds removed
200mls water
100 milligrams Squirrel Gully Saffron ( approx. 12 threads )
2 teaspoons Muntrie Powder ( this is an Australian native ingredient available online at )
1 cup sugar
300 grams rhubarb, washed and cut into into 4cm long batons.
I teaspoon lemon zest 


Preheat oven to 180°C
Poach the pears in a small saucepan with the water, saffron, muntrie powder and half of the sugar on medium heat for approx. 20 mins. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl , toss the rhubarb with lemon zest and the remainder of the sugar. Bake the rhubarb on a silicon mat or baking paper for approx. 30 minutes.
Allow the pears and rhubarb to cool slightly before combining the fruits. Preserve in sterilised jars.

SAFFRON AND orange blossom pannacotta

Serves: 4 people 


¼ cup (60ml ) cold water
1 x 7 gram gelatine sheet
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
40ml Squirrel Gully orange blossom honey
2 pieces of orange peel, pith removed


Soak the gelatine sheet in ¼ cup cold water for 5 mins to soften. In a saucepan, heat cream, sugar, saffron orange blossom honey and orange peel on medium heat. Remove from heat once the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the softened gelatine sheet and immediately whisk until there are no lumps . If the gelatine hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat gently over low heat. Stir constantly and don’t let the mixture boil. Remove the orange peel from the mix. Pour the cream mixture into 4 individual serving dishes. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until completely set. To serve, garnish with fresh berries. 

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