The Most Expensive Spice: Saffron


The Most Expensive Spice: Saffron. This blogpost explains why that is.

Saffron is a delicate spice. And the most expensive one in the world. For the best quality, you will pay 5-10 euros per gram! The reason is that the process that leads to this one gram of saffron is mindboggling.

It all starts with the Saffron Crocus

Crocus Sativus, usually called saffron crocus, is a brightly colored flower that these days is mostly cultivated around the Mediterranean and the Orient.

The stigma of the flowers are harvested. For 1 gram of dried saffron you will need 400-500 stigma. With three stigma per flower, you will need 150 flowers for this one precious gram of spice!

So know you know why saffron is so expensive.

Saffron consists mainly of carbohydrates, but as you will most likely just have a one or two grams in a whole dish, the net carbs intake per portion stays below a single gram and is therefore negligible. The dominant mineral is manganese.

Use of Saffron

Saffron brings color and fragrance to many dishes. The smell is described by some as honey-like or hay-like. And that is also how it tastes: sweet.

Saffron brings a yellow to reddish color to a dish, depending on the concentration.

Saffron is often used in rice-based dishes (while cooking, the rice will absorb the taste and color of the saffron). Think risotto, paella and many oriental dishes.

Imitation Saffron

In many middle-eastern stores you will also find "Portuguese saffron" or "Turkish saffron". This much cheaper alternative brings color, but not the fragrance or the taste.