Saffron 101: The World’s Most Expensive Spice
You've probably seen these strings of red spices in some of your fancy restaurant meals and for the record, these thread
like, dried orange stigmas are no ordinary garnish (and they are not cheap either). A commercial produce of Afghanistan, Iran, Morocco, Kashmir, and Spain, these perennial spice, sometimes called as wonder spice is known as saffron.
So what exactly is saffron?
The spice originates from the species of flowering plant called crocus sativa commonly known as the "saffron crocus” or “autumn crocus”. Most studies state that saffron was originally cultivated in Greece but today, saffron is being grown in the Mediterranean, East Asia and the Irano-Turanian regions as well.
The history of saffron use spans more than 3,500 years, extending across cultures and continents. Some books also record that Cleopatra used saffron in her bathwater giving it that extremely luxurious tag.
From food additions to medicinal elements, saffron has become a huge part of many Greco-Roman, Middle Eastern and South Asian dishes, cures and offerings.
Saffron’s Unique Taste and Fragrance
Saffron has a subtle earthy flavor and grassy aroma with a tang of sweetness similar to that of a flower and sweet honey. With a remarkable scent and flavor, saffron doesn’t only create a striking red and golden hue on every dish but it also straddles the sweet and savory mix.
Many culinary experts (and those with sensitive palettes) claim that saffron adds a unique flavor in dishes that you can’t find anywhere else. A little pinch of saffron can go a long way in terms of flavoring so generally, it is worth its high price tag.
Why is saffron so expensive?
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world — with 1 pound (450 grams) costing between 1000 and 5,000 U.S. dollars (depends on the origin, quality and locale of selling). The reason for the really hefty price is basically the labor behind the cultivation and harvesting method.
To produce a single gram of saffron requires roughly 150 flowers plus of course, the intensive work. Record-wise, producing 1 kilogram of saffron roughly takes 370-470 hours. Now, that’s a lot of work!
Besides adding flavors and aroma to a wide variety of dishes, saffron has also been tagged as a wonder spice for all its health benefits. In the 14th century, the herb was used as a remedy against the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) playing a significant role in trade history.
Today, medical practitioners and researchers claim that saffron benefits the human body in many different ways. From improving insomnia cases to digestive discomfort and weight loss and also, drastic effects on better eyesight, lower blood sugar levels and better immune system, saffron surely has the medicinal perk.
Where to buy saffron?
Saffron is available in a number of local Middle Eastern groceries and also, in some online platforms. Redsaff Saffron is one of the most credible sources of saffron spices known for its premium quality and authenticity.
Organically grown in Herat Province, West of Afghanistan, Redsaff Saffron is a superior spice cultivated in the rich soil and ideal climate of the Afghan region. All threads are handpicked by the Afghan women and packed in a beautiful airtight sealed jar in New York City.
Redsaff Saffron is also GMO-free, Gluten-free, Vegan with no added preservatives or additives.