Saffron is sold as whole threads or in powder form. Threads are preferable, since you can see what you're getting. Use your senses to examine the saffron: Look for long threads, about three-quarters of an inch, and a bright or deep red color, with few yellow styles. Smell the saffron, and taste it if possible. Pure dried saffron is very aromatic and tastes pleasingly bitter yet floral. A stigma placed on the tongue should never taste sweet. Ground saffron may be adulterated and often has less flavor.