Saffron Spice: The Most Expensive Spice

Saffron Spice: The Most Expensive Spice

Primarily grown in the arid soil of Iran, saffron spice is the most expensive of its type available anywhere in the world. Averaging about $5,000 per pound, it is highly valued wherever it can be found for its distinctive aroma, color, and taste when added to food.

If you’ve ever sampled authentic Spanish paella, then you’ll know all about what saffron offers, as it’s what gives the dish its unmistakable taste and coloring. While saffron in its raw form is red, this changes to a golden yellow color when it’s broken down during cooking.

So, out of all the spices in existence, why is it so expensive? Well, that’s something you’ll learn more about by reading on, as we cover the process that takes a beautiful flower from the field to the finished product that so many chefs love across the globe.

Creating Saffron Spice is a Laborious Process

One of the reasons why saffron is so expensive is due to the labor-intensive process that’s required to obtain it over its brief six-week harvesting window. Whether it’s grown in Iran or other parts of the world that are cultivated (the US, India, Spain, and Morocco). It takes an awful lot of saffron flowers to manufacture just one pound of the spice.

How much? Roughly 170,000 flowers.

The harvesting process is an extremely delicate one, with each individual flower picked and separated before it’s dried out. Saffron spice actually comes from the stigma of the flower, which happens to be the female part. This intricate work to separate it from the rest of the plant simply cannot be done via machine, which is why it’s still hand-harvested today.

Between late September and early December, millions upon millions of saffron flowers are harvested, but this is restricted to a specific time of day. This is because of humid conditions and the way that sunlight is known to break down saffron’s chemical structure. For this reason, harvesters almost always do their work very early in the morning.

Health Benefits Make it Even More Sought After

Another reason why people around the world are so happy to hand over so much money for this rich and alluring spice is the reported health benefits that it offers. Modern-day research has shown that saffron spice has a positive effect in reducing premenstrual syndrome (PMS), assisting weight loss, and enhancing mood - although these benefits are not news to people living in Asia.

For millennia, the Chinese, Greeks, and Indians have been using spices in cooking, cosmetics, perfumes, medicines, and more. With its first documented record of the spice appearing in the 7th century BC, it’s certainly something with a long and proud heritage.

There’s Literally No Adequate Substitute

At a molecular level, saffron contains three sought-after chemical components. They are safranal, picrocrocin, and crocin, which are the elements that provide the aromas and flavors. When discussing the quality of saffron spice, we’re talking about is the amount of these three components that exist in any given product.

Over history, many people have tried to create less expensive alternatives to saffron. However, none offer quite the same culinary experience. Some have attempted to create something similar using the stigmas of lily flowers or red marigold petals, but the resultant product has nothing like the same flavor or coloring. The truth is that there’s no adequate substitute.

Enjoy Saffron & Everything It Offers Today

Saffron is among the most expensive substances in the world, but there's a reason for its high price. It takes hours of back-breaking work to manufacture even just a small amount, and it offers a taste experience like no other. That’s before we start talking about the health benefits.

So, if reading our blog has given you an appetite for trying out this amazingly exclusive and luxurious spice, why not buy some for yourself today? Whether you're looking to create a stew, a tasty paella, or a sumptuous chicken korma, you need a good quality, affordably priced saffron spice from a trusted source.

That trusted source is the Little Istanbul shop. You’ll find a range of other incredibly tasty and versatile spices from around the world. We hope you enjoy working your way through them all!

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