If you’ve ever eaten a properly made paella, then you’ve tasted saffron. It’s the spice that gives that distinctive yellowish color and with $5,000 a pound (453gr), it’s by far the world’s most expensive spice.
To put that into context, the second most expensive spice, which is vanilla, is sold at $600 a pound. So one can wonder, what makes saffron so expensive?
Well, to answer that question, we have to understand from where does saffron come from. (the article continues after the ad)
Saffron comes from this flower, the Saffron Crocus flower:
Each flower has a total of three red stigmas. That’s it; that’s the total amount of saffron you can get from one flower. And if that wasn’t enough, this purple flower only blooms from early October to early December for a period of six weeks. Now you understand that in order to get that pound of saffron you can then sell for $5,000, you’d have to plant 170,000 flowers. In fact, one acre (approximately 4,000.00 m2) of Saffron Crocus will yield 4 pounds of saffron.
Saffron is also incredibly difficult to harvest. Stigmas are removed by hand so as not to damage other parts of the plant and are then dehydrated. These procedures require a lot of workers which makes it extremely costly to get saffron from production to consumer. And that is the reason why saffron you get at the supermarket is wildly expensive.
BONUS FACT: Because of the country’s ideal climate conditions and cheap labor, 90% of the world’s saffron comes from Iran.
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Sources: Garden Q&A: How Do You Harvest Saffron Strands From the Crocus? | Why is saffron so expensive? | Why Is Saffron So Expensive?