Saffron – the most expensive spice in the world
In some areas it is still believed that saffron is more expensive than gold. Is that really the case? Why is the cultivation of this plant so complicated and how is saffron obtained? These are frequent questions which we will try to answer for you today.
First, a few words about the spice itself: Crocus is a perennial tuber plant and not a bulbous plant, as commonly believed. It is cultivated on plantations, where later on saffron is being obtained. Supposedly roughly 89 types of crocus exist. That’s food for thought: If there are so many types of crocus, then why is crocus farming so limited and not more wide-spread? Facts show that the spice is obtained from the genus Sativus. This plant blooms in autumn and not in spring as the other crocuses and Sativus cannot survive temperatures below 15° C. Cultivating saffron is cost intensive and requires extensive and hard labour. The main reason for the high price is that the crocuses have to be harvested by hand and that 150,00 to 250,00 blossoms are needed for 1 kilogram saffron.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that saffron is the most expensive seasoning in the world. It is bright red and colours food yellow. Along with being used in cooking, saffron also finds it way into homeopathy and is regarded as being anti-depressive and sedative. It also has the reputation of being an aphrodisiac.
Nowadays, saffron is farmed mainly around the Mediterranean and in northern Africa. The most valuable saffron is from La Mancha in Spain – famous for its colour, scent and taste. But, the largest producer of this plant is Iran.
The belief that saffron is more expensive than gold originated in the Middle Ages. During these times the aristocracy held the plant in high esteem. During the plague, the price for saffron was 45 times as high as today’s premium price. Often saffron was stolen and very often lead to armed conflict. Today, the highest price for the spice is at approximately 25.000,00 €/kg. The gold price is at roughly 41.470 euro per kilogram. Saffron may not be as expensive as gold anymore, but the price is still extremely high. Saffron will not be cultivated in Germany in the foreseeable future. Our neighbours Austria and Switzerland are quite a few steps ahead in this matter; saffron has already been grown in these countries for few years. This demanded spice can also be grown at home, but the extent of home-cultivation remains unclear. Do you have any experience with it? Enter your comment and tell other readers about it.
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