Spices have always been part of our human history as explorers. During the early days of exploration, many lands were discovered by nations in search of spices, which shows exactly just how important these things are. After discovering spices, cooking is impossible without spices.
Spices have different values. These values haven’t decreased over the many centuries that have passed since the early days of explorations and conquest. Today, many spices are still considered to be highly valuable in worth and price. It is interesting to know that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Why? Here we want to explain and say the reasons.
Saffron seems to have originated in the Middle East and comes from the Crocus Sativus flower. Saffron has a sweet aroma with grass or hay-like notes. This spice is used on a wide scale in Persian, Indian, Arab and European cuisines.
Saffron spice is actually the stigma of the Crocus Sativus flower. Each flower has almost three stigmas in the center. Saffron harvesters separate and dry them. All these procedures should be done by hand and very carefully to avoid damaging the other parts of the plants. So, we need labor power to do this. This drastically increases the cost of saffron and is the major contributing factor to its cost. We need to harvest around 75,000 flowers to get one pound of this spice and just one pound of it can cost you $5,000.
The saffron flowers only bloom over a 6-week period from late September to early December. There’s also a specific time of day to harvest them. So, we prefer to harvest the saffron flower early morning every day because sunlight can break the chemical structure in the saffron.
As a result, the short and specific harvest time of each day, the long harvesting process in weeks, and the trusted workforce are the most important factors that have a significant impact on the quality and price of saffron.
Saffron spice is rich in Picrocrocin, Crocin, and Safranal. These chemicals occur very rarely in nature and are of extreme medical importance. When we are talking about saffron quality, technically we’re talking about these three chemical components. Saffron is widely used in different industries like pharmacy, cosmetics, perfume, staining, and also cooking.
Saffron needs specific climate conditions to grow, therefore we cannot grow saffron everywhere. The dry, moderate and continental climate is the best climate for growing saffron. So, some limited regions of the world like Iran are suitable for growing saffron. This is another reason which makes it a rare specie and giving it high prices.
Harvesting saffron requires a lot of physical labor to get the flowers from the field to final packaging. The harvesting process plus its distinct flavor, smell, and color make it the most expensive spice in the world.