Table of Contents Hide
- Origin of Saffron
- Is Saffron The Most Expensive Thing in The World?
- How To Eat Saffron
- Amazing Benefits Of Saffron
- What Is Saffron Used for In Cooking?
- What Are The Top 5 Spices?
- Where To Buy Saffron?
- How To Grow Saffron
Saffron is known widely by everyone for being the most expensive spice in the world. With its rich history, it has always been considered an extraordinarily valuable culinary item. Every country and culture has its ways of consuming this most expensive spice, which we call saffron.
Some countries use saffron in the form of powder, some use its milk and water, and all of them use saffron in cooking. Many people might be unaware of this but there were times in the ancient eras where saffron was used as a currency. This most expensive spice in the world comes from the stigmas of a delicate purple flower named, Crocus sativus. Those tiny flowers contain very few stigmas in each flower which is why the value of saffron is so high in the culinary world.
Let’s look at what makes this culinary gem the most expensive spice in the world.
Origin of Saffron
Saffron, which is known as the most expensive spice in the world, has a rich historical background which gave it the importance and the value it now possesses. This red-yellowish-colored spice with a strong aroma is said to be discovered in the Bronze Age of the Roman Empire.
Saffron, which is now the most expensive spice in the world, was originally cultivated in the Roman province called Asia Minor, Iran, and in some areas of the Mediterranean. Although native to Asia Minor, this valuable spice was also cultivated in Spain during the Arab times, and in the beautiful valleys of Kashmir.
The historical significance of the most expensive spice began when the Romans started using its aroma in perfumes. The saffron powder was sprinkled in the streets of the Roman Empire upon the arrival of the Royal Emperors. The Roman theaters, courts, and halls were made ready by the saffron aroma and powder as a symbol of royalty.
The famous Greek ruler Cleopatra was known to bathe in saffron water before her suitors came to visit her. Another use of saffron in the Roman era was as a dye for women’s jackets and their hair. But after some time, the Roman emperors stopped that practice for the fear of running out of unique spices like saffron.
The earliest Chinese literature also mentions the use and cultivation of such a spice that was considered worth more than the gold at times. After the Roman, Empire, the saffron started growing immensely in Spain. Saffron reached Spain as the Arabs invaded Spanish areas hundreds of years ago. At that time, the Arabs were known for their scientific inventions and contributions to the field of medicine. Therefore, unlike the Greek rulers, Arabs explored the medicinal uses of the most expensive spice in the world. They used saffron for treating the sexual dysfunctions of men, for managing the hormonal and antioxidant imbalances in humans, and also used it in their cooking.
There are plenty of Spanish dishes made even today that use saffron as a key ingredient for their authentic flavor and texture. In India, during ancient times, the yellowish pigment extracted from saffron was made the official color of noble garments.
Is Saffron More Valuable Than Gold?
Upon learning that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, people start to compare it with other exotic spices and non-culinary items such as gold. One such question everyone asks is whether or not the saffron dearer than gold? Well without any exaggeration the answer is yes, saffron along with being the most expensive spice in the world, is worth more than gold. For one pound of saffron to be cultivated, around 170,000 Crocus sativus flowers are blossomed and harvested, to get those tiny reddish stigmas. So, the value of saffron in weight is higher than the value of gold.
Why Is Saffron So Precious?
What makes saffron the most expensive spice in the world is not its rich aroma or the vibrant color it gives to the food. Rather, it is because of the harvesting process and the labor required in its production.
Each saffron flower has to be handpicked carefully, after which the delicate stigmas are removed from the flower. The Crocus sativus plant is not self-pollinating which means that each plant has to be planted by hand, taken care of, and grown in a special environment. Being a sensitive plant, the flowers have to be plucked at a time where when the sun is not directly shining on them.
All this extensive labor is done to get just three or four stigmas from a single flower. The process has to be repeated hundreds of times to get 1 pound of saffron, which is the reason it is the most expensive spice in the world.
Is Saffron The Most Expensive Thing in The World?
Saffron is not the most expensive thing in the world but the title of being the most expensive spice and the culinary item undoubtedly goes to saffron. The most flourishing batch of the saffron crops will hardly make around 10 pounds (4.5kgs) of final saffron product. The average quality saffron crops in different areas of Kashmir, Iran, Italy, and Spain, can only harvest up to 4 pounds of saffron, after heavy labor, transport, and cultivation.
How Much Is 1g Of Saffron Worth?
In the US, the average price for 1g (0.0022 lb.) of saffron is up to $7. To get one pound of pure saffron in the US, you will need an average of $5,000 in your pocket. The Iranian saffron is no doubt the most expensive spice you will get in the US and has always been one of the most valuable spices in history. It costs between $3,000 to $10,000 per pound, depending on its originality.
What Is The Rarest Spice?
Saffron is not only the most expensive spice in the world but also the rarest spice you will get on earth. The amount f effort and the hard work needed for a small quantity of saffron makes it the rarest of all the spices. Stigmas of the saffron flowers are female parts and they are not always in the dry form, we get from the market. The laborers that handpick the stigmas have to dry those delicate parts after separating them from the flowers.
What makes saffron so rare is the fact that Crocus sativus flowers blossom only in one week of the whole year and the farmers have to ready to cultivate, harvest and process the plants. The challenging cultivating and harvesting procedures, the tiring labor work, and the sensitive nature of the saffron plants make the saffron the most expensive spice in the world. For one pound of saffron, the laborers have to handpick hundreds of flowers for 40-50 hours. Few more reasons the saffron is the rarest spice in the world include, the challenging timeline of the crop, the difficult growth, sensitive plants, extensive work on the harvest, and transportation. Currently, more than 85% of the saffron spice comes from Iran.
How To Eat Saffron
Saffron is eaten by people all around the world in many forms, some prefer saffron in their meals by cooking, while others like to utilize saffron as beverages such as saffron tea. People consume saffron in form of saffron water, saffron powder, and especially saffron milk, all of which have their exclusive benefits.
Saffron tea is one of the famous creations of this most expensive spice called saffron. People drink saffron tea for skin and hair routine, and many people consume saffron tea for depression because of the high number of antioxidants found in saffron. According to studies on health, any saffron tea side effects are rarely found.
Saffron milk’s benefits for skin and male infertility issues are remarkable. People consume saffron milk every day, for better hair, nails, skin, and overall physical and mental health.
Saffron water means adding saffron to the water and then drinking it to gain plenty of saffron water benefits from it. There is no right way for how to use saffron water, it has multiple uses in cooking and our daily life.
Saffron powder is used to give bright red color to different desserts and foods like chicken and many South Asian cuisines.
Amazing Benefits Of Saffron
Saffron which is known as the most expensive spice in the world has been used for numerous medicinal and cooking purposes for ages. From its early use in Rome and Spain to modern consumption throughout the world, there is plenty of evidence for saffron having uncountable benefits.
Saffron Benefits for Health
- Saffron Promotes Weight Loss
Studies have shown that consuming saffron in food regularly leads to weight loss, especially in women. The underlying cause for that is the ability of this most expensive spice in the world to lower the appetite of the consumer. When the food you eat decreases your overall appetite, you refrain from excessive snacking and therefore it results in positive weight loss. Saffron also seems to boost the mood of an individual which in turn stops them from unnecessary junk eating, ultimately leading to weight loss.
- Saffron Lowers the Risk of Cancer
According to several pieces of research on cancerous cells, the use of saffron has shown a substantial decrease in the cancerous cells in the body. One of the main components of saffron is Crocin which can lower the total number of cancerous cells in the body, through inhibition. The biggest advantage of using saffron to prevent and treat cancer is that it does not affect the healthy cells in the body while killing the cancerous ones. Another important element found in saffron is carotenoid, this chemical has the strongest tendency against cancer. Breast cancer patients utilizing saffron in their diet have reported a decline in their cancer cells over time.
- Saffron Improves Our Mental Health
The most expensive spice in the world is rich in antioxidants such as safranal, crocin, picrocrocin. These antioxidants play their part in regulating the stress level of individuals and boost their fight and flight responses. The higher level of antioxidants found in saffron eliminates the free radicals in the body by canceling their effect. According to researches, crocin enhances the body’s ability to cope better with chemotherapy. Scientific evidence suggests this most expensive spice in the world improves the mood of its consumers. Due to this property of saffron, it is also known as an effective antidepressant; way better than the placebo tablets.
- Saffron Relieves Menstrual Symptoms
Young girls and women suffering from premenstrual syndrome have benefited greatly from the use of saffron every day. Taking saffron on daily basis systematically relieves the overall symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Such symptoms include physical cramps, bodily pains, mood swings, snacking, anxiety, and many other psychological issues. Even the aroma of pure saffron is known to reduce premenstrual problems such as anxiety and cramps. Young girls can make a habit of using saffron in one form or another because even the saffron tea benefits are numerous for the PMS.
- Saffron Sharpens Our Vision
According to the researches done in Australia, compounds in saffron have proved to sharpen the vision of old age individuals. This improvement was recorded through the observation of their retinal function over time. Safranal, which is one of the chemicals found abundantly in saffron, prevents retinal deterioration and strengthens the network of visual vessels. Saffron has also been used in clinical trials for treating genetic blindness in young adults.
- Saffron Eases Pregnancy in Women
Saffron is a unique spice that has plenty of benefits for both men and women. Women who wish to avoid c-section for the delivery of their babies should start consuming saffron during their pregnancy. It not only reduces the likelihood of the c-section but also enhances the opening of the cervix during childbirth. Those women who experiment with saffron usage during their pregnancies face fewer complications.
- Saffron Boosts the Immune System
The components found in saffron are responsible for the enhancement of the immunity of the human body. This most expensive spice in the world improves antibody production in our body and even the saffron seeds’ benefits are noticeable. With a high level of immunity due to saffron usage, the healing process speeds up and individuals feel greater energy in everyday tasks.
Saffron Benefits For Hair
Saffron which is the most expensive spice in the world has an abundance of antioxidants, that help relieve hair loss problems in men and women. Saffron tea’s benefits for skin and hair are increasing in number with the recent studies. According to such studies, saffron in any form such as saffron tea with milk or in powder form, cure baldness and reduce hair damage. The daily use of saffron tea, saffron water, or saffron milk strengthens the hair and boosts hair growth, especially in females. There has been a tremendous improvement in the hair quality, growth, smoothness, and length of hair in individuals that consume saffron regularly.
Saffron Benefits For Skin
Using saffron makes the skin of the individuals smooth, clear, and radiant. Saffron milk’s benefits for the skin are great in number. You can increase the glow of your skin by making a mask with milk, saffron strands, and sandalwood powder. Make a mixture with three ingredients and apply it to your skin, for some time. Once you wipe the mask off your skin, your skin will glow and become clear of dust particles. Saffron also makes the color of your skin lighter and reduces the dullness from the harsh weather. Drinking saffron milk everyday benefits include toning of the skin, removal of scar marks, and the treatment of acne.
Saffron Benefits For Men
Studies carried out on masculine sexual dysfunctions have revealed that saffron has proved effective in treating the erectile issue in males. Saffron increases the overall reproductive abilities of young males who are facing issues in sperm production and other sexual dysfunctions. With such an effect on the sperm count, saffron is known to cure male infertility marginally. Males using saffron in form of saffron milk or saffron tea regularly, report a boost in their libido and a sense of greater sexual drive towards their partners. Men and women who used antidepressants to cope with low sexual energy have revealed that using saffron has amplified their sexual desires, leading to better relationships.
What Is Saffron Used for In Cooking?
Saffron is used to making healthy and delicious dishes of all kinds, from sweet desserts to spicy meals like chicken and soups.
Healthy Saffron Recipes
There is a long list of savory saffron recipes that everyone should know about. Here are some recipes from saffron you can try at home:
Saffron Recipes Vegetarian – Saffron Tomato Soup
- Ingredients: 2 garlic cloves (minced), a pinch of saffron, 1 onion (diced), 2 tablespoons oil, 2 cans of drained tomatoes, 2 cups white wine, ¼ teaspoon of pepper and salt, a pinch of cumin, basil, thyme, oregano, and paprika.
- Directions: In a big pan put oil and onion and heat them until the onion becomes soft. Then add tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, saffron, thyme, basil, and all other spices and stir well. Add white wine into the pan and let the mixture simmer. After five minutes take the pan off the stove and pour the soup into a bowl and enjoy.
Saffron Recipes Chicken – Saffron Chicken
- Ingredients: 3 large pieces of chicken, ½ teaspoon of saffron, 1 julienned onion, 3 tablespoons oil/butter, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a pinch of cardamon, 1 ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons grated ginger, 2 fresh green chilies.
- Directions: Take a frying pan and put saffron in it, carefully roast the saffron until you feel the aroma. Take the saffron out of the pan, and crush it after making it cool. Mix the cooled and crushed saffron in one tablespoon of water and put it aside. Then in a pan put the oil or the butter and add onion, garlic, chilies, and ginger and stir until lightly golden. Once the onions are softened add the chicken pieces, salt, cardamom, and saffron and mix everything well. Cook the chicken for as long as it becomes tender and the liquid is all gone. Turn the heat off and take out the chicken in a dish and your saffron chicken is ready to savor.
Saffron Recipes Desserts – Persian Saffron Pudding
- Ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 2 cups water, 10 whole cardamom, ½ tablespoons Iranian saffron, 3 cups coconut milk, ¾ cups rice flour, 1 cinnamon stick, ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 2 tablespoons orange blossom water, few golden raisins, and 3- 5 pistachios.
- Directions: Take a large bowl and put all the spices such as the most expensive spice – saffron, cardamom, turmeric, and cinnamon stick, and let their color come out. In a pan, pour coconut milk, salt half a cup of sugar, and let them boil, then add rice flour and make a smooth mixture. Add the spice mixture from the bowl into the pan and cook for around 20 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and pour the mixture into a strainer with a large bowl underneath to separate the spices from the pudding. Once the pudding is ready and, in the refrigerator, make the orange blossom syrup. For the syrup, mix half a cup of sugar, water, orange blossom water, raisins and heat it. When it becomes thick, pour the syrup over the pudding and decorate it with saffron strands, pistachios, and raisins.
What Are The Top 5 Spices?
Having Saffron – the most expensive spice in the world in your kitchen is a plus point but we cannot deny the importance of some other exotic and unique spices that everyone needs in their cabinet. Here is a list of the top five spices other than saffron that increase your culinary world.
- Cumin: Saffron has no doubt an amazing aroma and a distinct taste but when it comes to cumin, nobody can resist its misty flavor and earthy aroma. Most of the cultural dishes with deep values and histories have cumin as their key ingredient. From eggs to chicken, a pinch of cumin adds a unique zest to the flavor of the food. In the US, you can get cumin in powdered form or as ground cumin. Roasting the ground cumin has one of the most appetizing aromas in the culinary universe. Adding a hint of cumin in every food helps with digestion and other gastrointestinal problems as well.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a versatile spice, it has much more applications than being on your morning toast. You can add cinnamon to your spicy diet to neutralize its effect and add a sweet exclusivity to the food. The smell of the freshly grounded cinnamon remains unbeaten in the baking and culinary surroundings. For food adventurers, cinnamon is a must in every meal to get a warm and savory flavor. Cinnamon mixes up great with hot beverages like saffron tea and coffee and offers a subtle sweet flavor to them.
- Black Pepper: Black pepper is never separated from the salt; these two spices are always seen together in every spice cabinet. Adding a small amount of black pepper to every dish gives it a rich taste that has many health benefits as well. Black pepper cannot be ignored by any cook, no matter the type of dish they are cooking. From simple dishes like scrambled eggs to complicated meals like dumplings, a pinch of black pepper is a must. Using black pepper instead of red chili powder lowers cholesterol levels and helps fight chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disorder and cancer.
- Paprika: This vibrant spice has the same color as the most expensive spice in the world which is saffron. The taste and qualities, however, are completely different, of these two spices. Paprika is made by grinding the red-hot peppers under direct sunlight for many days. The dried peppers make the perfect hot spice that gives a twist to every food it is added to. There are different types of paprika you can get, such as smoked paprika, sweet paprika, and spicy paprika. Adding paprika to your food takes you on a roller coaster ride of flavors in your mouth.
- Oregano: This herbal spice gives your food a delicate texture and aromatic feel that takes you to some real Italian vibes. The early Greeks and Romans labeled this spice as a symbol of happiness, due to its light savory flavor. Oregano is also known to have multiple medicinal uses like the most expensive spice of the world – saffron.
What Is The Most Expensive Herb?
Whether you call it an herb, plant, spice, or flower, saffron is the most exclusive one in all those categories. With the extensive labor, hard growth, physical efforts to separate strands of saffron from the flower, and the final product distribution, saffron deserves to be called the most expensive spice in the world.
Where To Buy Saffron?
For those who love saffron supplements, one of the most significant questions is where can I buy saffron near me. In the US, you can simply go to a nearby Walmart and get the required quantity of saffron. If you do not prefer Walmart, then getting saffron from Amazon is another great option. There are plenty of saffron sellers on Amazon, you just have to know the right one by the brand name or the name of the distributor. Pure Iranian saffron can be bought from the top saffron brands in the US.
Best Saffron Brand In The USA
There are so many saffron brands in the US, claiming to sell the purest Iranian saffron to their customers. Here are the top saffron selling brands in the US that are recognized for their quality product:
- Mehr Saffron
This brand has earned its name in not just the US but in the whole world by selling the freshest saffron with a rich aroma. Mehr Saffron has won several international food awards which makes it the best saffron brand in the USA.
- Zaran Saffron
For someone searching where to buy saffron powder, we suggest you buy it from Zaran Saffron, because of their extremely thin strands that almost look like powder. Zaran sells 100% pure Iranian saffron, packed in small luxurious glass vessels.
- Redsaff Afghan Saffron
Redsaff is an award-winning saffron brand that deals in the pure red saffron, grown and harvested in Afghanistan; one of the largest saffron growing regions in the world. Their saffron is of high quality and has an amazing taste because the saffron production in Afghanistan is purely organic.
- Kiva Spanish Saffron
As the name suggests, this saffron company imports the pure saffron cultivated in the native Spanish regions. Instead of the typical glass jars used for the strands of this most expensive spice, they sell saffron in eco-friendly resealable jars.
How To Grow Saffron
One of the valid reasons that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world is its difficult and sensitive growth. Saffron strands that you get for hundreds of dollars are extracted from the saffron crocus bulb, which is the name for part of the plant which turns into a flower. Many people who don’t want to spend so much money on buying saffron are looking for the answers to questions like, how to grow saffron for profits and how to grow saffron indoors.
The first thing to do for growing your saffron is to know the right place for saffron crocus bulbs sale in the USA. You will find them in local nursery shops, but growing saffron crocus in pots is not possible because saffron flowers do not blossom throughout the year. The saffron crocus grows best in the fall season and they need the best quality soil and lots of sunshine hours. For the expensive spices to grow, put the saffron crocus bulbs 5 inches deep in the soil and fertilize them after some days. When the season is suitable for these exotic spices to grow, you will see the saffron flowers blooming. From there onwards, the separation of saffron strands and the drying process begins and you get your homegrown saffron in your spice cabinet.