it is mainly a coloring agent, although it does have a mild, slightly sweet-but-earthy taste. Turmeric will indeed give you color more economically, although it does have a bitterness that saffron doesn't. Saffron is also more of a true yellow, whereas turmeric is more orange.
I keep some on hand, mostly for making saffron basmati rice for Indian dishes. I don't mind the price, as it takes me years to go through the little container!
BTW, the way it is usually used is to steep a few stamens in a small amount of warm water or soil milk, to bring out all the color you can. Then the liquid is added to your rice or other dish. More efficient that way, and the color is then spread evenly throughout the dish. I found this at a website
Thanks Rita... after reading what I wrote I should clear up one point tho, the Azafran en Flor, purchased at the mercado Is Fine red stigmas, there are a few threadds of the stigma that's clumped, but not many, out of a bag you may have a clump or two that are pea sized
I got some saffron flower and have not used yet. I have been using turmeric in the paella . I have not made any lately. I though petals it looked like . You want to watch that Mexican display as some herbs on the rack are not for food. I grabbed one new to me and did not read at store and at home said for something else. Medicial to soak in or something. I sure tossed it out of the food area spices. Saffron flower looks to me like dried petals and I had guess probable marigold of that type. I got mine at Walmart. Bags of herbs are cheap there.
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the "saffron crocus". The vivid crimson stigmas and styles, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. Saffron, long among the world's most costly spices by weight, was probably first cultivated in or near Greece. C. sativus is probably a form of C. cartwrightianus, that emerged by human cultivators selectively breeding plants for unusually long stigmas in late Bronze Age Crete. It slowly propagated throughout much of Eurasia and was later brought to parts of North Africa, North America, and Oceania. Saffron's taste and iodoform or hay-like fragrance result from the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid pigment, crocin, which imparts a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles. Its recorded history is attested in a 7th-century BC Assyrian botanical treatise compiled under Ashurbanipal,and it has been traded and used for over four millennia. Iran now accounts for approximately 90% of the world production of saffron.