Kasubha is not saffron

It may look like saffron, it even does what saffron does (impart a yellow-orange hue to food) but kasubha is not saffron. The Tagalog Wikipedia got it wrong.

casaveneracion.com Kasubha is not saffron

While saffron is derived from the saffron crocus, kasubha comes from the Carthamus tinctorius or, as it is more commonly known, safflower. Click here and here to see how different the two plants are from one another.

casaveneracion.com Kasubha is not saffron

The really curious thing is how kasubha is being marketed as saffron.

casaveneracion.com Kasubha is not saffron

That 20 gram jar of kasubha costs P36.25 (about USD0.84).

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using kasubha. Cooking is about using what’s available and sustainable cooking is partly about using what’s locally available. Still, it bothers me that unscrupulous business entities are trying to hoodwink the public with such a misrepresentation. I knew it was kasubha when I bought that P36.25 jar. A small packet (half the size of a packet of yeast) of real saffron costs almost P300.00. I bought the jar of “saffron” primarily to blog about it — to more precise, to blog about the mislabeling and misrepresentation. And to use the content as kasubha in ways that I have always used it — to cook “goto” or tripe congee, arroz caldo…

The “goto” recipe is coming up next.



Comments

  1. says

    Whoa I didn’t know that kasubha is not actually saffron. To be fair, the pack I bought clearly said it was kasubha, but it also said in parentheses that it was saffron. Hmm! And I wondered why it was so cheap compared to the others in the spice shelf.

    • Connie says

      Apparently, the term “fake saffron” is acceptable. But most businesses selling kasubha forget to include “fake.” LOL

  2. says

    I also noticed that in a lot of supermarkets. Minsan pa, magkatabi yung “fake” saffron and the real saffron. I knew that the lesser priced “saffron” was a bit dubious cos the real thing is just so expensive. Hay!

  3. mareza says

    even in Dubai they sell fake ones…if they selling it for cheap chances are they are.the test is to dip few strands in water if it comes out red it is fake…the water should be dark orange in color,( they sell it tingi from a box and came from Iran)

  4. Connie says

    I wonder if all those wrong labels are the result of honest ignorance or a real intention to mislead and cheat.

  5. Graes says

    i was wondering about that. When my mom came back from a visit to the Philippines, she gave me a small jar of “safflower” and she mentioned that saffron is way cheaper in the Phils. Thanks for clearing this up. I was wondering why they did not have the same structure – saffron that I had really crumbles in my finger when I crush it while the Phil. one was soft.

    Though I just found out that safflower oil is healthier than olive oil.

    ps. Thanks Connie for your blog – I love reading it and using some of your recipes in my cooking!

  6. says

    Hi Ms Connie,

    I just came from Unimart the other day, and I was looking for the “fake” saffron in the spice aisle.. Amazingly, nawala lahat ng bottles nila ng Wil-Pack “Saffron.” Haha, I don’t know if it’s just sold out or they pulled it out :))

  7. waswi28 says

    i also thought “kasubha” is a real saffron. i was wondering before why did they say that saffron is the most expensive spice when i can buy tingi-tingi of it (kasubha) in the wet market in the Phils. when i was young.. :) thanks for clearing and sharing this! very informative!:)

  8. says

    that is so true. I remember an episode of junior master chef over aBs-cBn when oNe senior chef literally translated kasubha as saffron. I don’t know he hat chef was aware of his misinterpretation of the word. I lost esteem for him.

  9. pouan says

    I am Persian and I have Persian saffron ,best quality in the world because it just grows up in Iran then export to Europe and US and over there packing to export other countries.I bring export saffron for first time from my country to Philippines .If you want it just send your request to my email,I am living in manila.meanwhile kasubha isn’t saffron.My saffron just export to Europe and US.Thank you.

  10. Lucien says

    It is a common practice among manufacturers to incorporate safflower into Saffron’s packaging. Doing so increases their sales since most people can’t tell the difference between the two. However, there are those who will intentionally mislabel the packaging for higher earnings. tsk! tsk! =(

    • says

      So what is saffron in Filipino? And what is kasubha in English?
      I’m cooking arroz caldo now and my helper has to buy saffron.
      And she said, “Ate wala daw SAFORNT”. Hahaha!

      • Connie says

        Does there have to be a local translation? Saffron is sold locally as saffron and it is available only in specialty shops and –very rarely — in supermarkets.

        You can use a translator to check if there is an English word for kasubha.

  11. Ron says

    Kasubha “poor mans saffron” lol… Still kasubha is great to taste… I always use it to my cookings… I always cook rice with it bout a tablespoon and my family and friends is saying “wow special palage ang kanin”… Well just to make them special every day since they always ask me if I can cook saffron rice for them… Well we all know “real” saffron is expensive and much tastier… But I make the best out of it with kasubha depends on your trick as a cook lol… to make them feel fancy whenever they eat a meal… Haha… But again kasubha is a great spice. Try to mix and match with the food with kasubha… I did and it turned out great… As they say… Mas marameng kasubha mas malalasahan ang kasubha… Lol… Tnx Miss Connie for making things clear…

  12. Ron says

    Ai nga po pala… If you want to trick the taste of saffron put a little paprika sa kasubha habang ineextract ung color ng kasubha hehe

    • Ramon Palmero says

      I found your site when I was looking for kasubha. Now I know the difference between saffron and kasubha. You have a nice website ,I will try your chicken Bacolod style this week. I will let you know the result…Thank you for your web site.

  13. Luna says

    I once asked my boyfriend ( who is a chief) why [what I thought was] saffron is so cheap here in the Phils. and he answered with a laugh ” Magellan didn’t mistaken our country as the spice islands for nothing!” Haha.

  14. Kelly says

    Hi Connie. Thank you for this info.
    I am currently looking for saffron. where did you buy your jar of saffron? and how much is it? i was told that in canada and america, saffron is so expensive so i’m not sure if it is the same here in Manila.

      • Blue says

        Kasubha is Safflower in English and only shares a similar color to the real Saffron but not the taste. Still, Safflower which also known as ‘Mexican Saffron’, can be crumbled then toasted in dry pan to add some flavor.

        I remember reading somewhere that the trick to using real Saffron on a budget (lol), is use only a little pinch but soak it in hot water overnight to allow the full flavor to be released.

        • Myrna says

          Yes Blue says, the best way to use saffron is get little of it and soak in water or much better I soak it in rose water, the fragrance and color would be enhanced and pour drops of it in white rice.

    • says

      Was watching Kitchen Boss and Buddy’s using saffron. Bigla kong naisip… ano nga ba ang saffron?Bakit ito daw ang pinakamahal na spice pero bakit mura lang dito sa ‘Pinas? Yun pala hindi saffron ang kasubha!

      Isa sa mga pangarap ko ang makagamit ng saffron, Miss Connie :) Buti pa si Remy ng Ratatouille!

  15. Len says

    I really have great laugh reading some of the comments regarding saffron versus kasubha. Now, i have come to realize that there is a big difference between kasubha and saffron in terms of price and in taste…

    Thanks Connie for the heads up!

  16. bert says

    Good Day Ms. Connie,

    so how do i use the kasuba? got it at cash& carry, though i was already skeptical about the price 10 pesos for 10gram pack J&Y brand, i just thought it was the local version hence the low price.

    was thinking of using it for coloring java rice

    bert

  17. Ian says

    You can buy saffron at Santi’s medyo mahal lang 480 a pack ( 1/8 lang ng packaging nung fake. )
    FYI: Sa south muntinlupa and san pedro laguna area pinagbabawal yun kasubha dahil na cacancer daw. Wala na sa local market.

  18. Mylene says

    i found out the reason why a lot of customers return those saffron and they reason out it is fake….I am dependable of the management reputation that they are being judge-mental to us. I was illumined by this blog.Thanks anyway.

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