What is Saffron Spice – Why is it so expensive?

What is Saffron Spice – Saffron is the costliest spice in the world, but it’s different from other spices. Saffron is not a seed, a root or a fruit, it’s the thin threads, styles or stigmas that carry the pollen of a very rare flower.

People mostly use saffron as a flavoring spice that adds an intense golden color to food, The color in the flower’s stigmas is so bright that ancient Chinese cultures used it as a cloth dye, but the spice is also quite healthy.

Today, we use saffron all over the world, but with discretion. The spice is incredibly expensive, but a small pinch can go a long way. The earthy, grassy and sweet aromas of saffron, not dissimilar to the scents of freshly picked flowers and honey, justify saffron’s elevated price. Here’s all you wanted to know about saffron spice.

Why is Saffron so Expensive?

What is a Saffron Plant

Saffron is the stigma of a Crocus sativus plant, but the plant flowers only one week every year. Each flower has only three stigmas, and they must be harvested by hand, making it a pricey, labor-intensive, and time-consuming process.

To produce one ounce of saffron, growers must harvest the stigmas of around 1000 flowers, each with about 0.006 grams of spice. Therefore, according to Business Insider, one kilo of saffron can cost up to 10,000 dollars. Despite the steep price, we harvest 200 metric tons of saffron every year, Iran producing 90% of the prized spice.

Saffron Health Benefits

We cherish Saffron for its flavor, aroma, and coloring properties, but it is used in ancient medicine and offers health benefits backed by modern science.

Saffron is a good source of antioxidants, mainly crocetin, safranal, crocin and kaempferol, basically responsible for giving the spice its bright red color. Antioxidants can fight scavenger free radicals that can cause cell damage in our bodies.

The flower’s stigmas, or threads, have proven to be effective against mild depression and can boost your mood.

Lab studies have shown that saffron compounds are effective against colon cancer cells and could make them more vulnerable to cancer treatments.

Saffron can relieve Premenstrual syndrome discomforts, irritability and headaches.

Studies have shown positive results when exploring the aphrodisiac effects of saffron, increasing libido in men and women, and even improving erectile dysfunction.

Consuming saffron could curve a patient’s appetite, aiding weight loss, which is directly related to saffron’s mood-boosting properties that prevent us from snacking due to anxiety.

Saffron Nutritional Value

Saffron is widely prized, and it certainly adds color, flavor and aromas to food. Yet, a minimal amount of saffron is needed to infuse food with these benefits, meaning, nutritionally, it adds very little value to our diet.

Having said so, saffron is made of 75% carbohydrates, and the flower’s stigmas or styles do contain 16% fats and 9% proteins. For vitamins, we can underline the presence of vitamin C, which helps repair body tissues and strengthen our immune system, and vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, which aids our metabolism and creates blood cells and neurotransmitters.

If consumed in large quantities, saffron could be an essential source for iron, potassium, magnesium and manganese. All vital minerals that work at many levels in our system.

How To Cook With Saffron

Cooking Saffron

Saffron is most commonly sold by the ounce, and it comes as whole stigmas. To cook with saffron, you must powder the stigmas in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. You can then combine the resulting red powder with water, butter or oil and add it to stews, broths, sauces and rice.

One of the most common uses of saffron is coloring and automatizing rice, as it’s done in several Middle Eastern countries, in the Indian biryani, and the Spanish paella. The French seafood soup bouillabaisse depends on the colorful flower, too.

Saffron is Worth its Weight in Gold

Literally and figuratively, saffron is worth its weight in gold. It’s one of the most esteemed spices in the kitchen and one of the most promising spices in health science.

It might be hard to add saffron to your regular diet due to its high prices, but a little saffron goes a long way. At the end of the day, it’s hard to say no to a hearty and steamy plate of paella. You can look around options for a good quality safron at our curated shop or check out recommended quality directly at Superior Saffron Threads.


Highly Rated – Social Media Chatter on Saffron Spice

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Saffron - of Greek origin, and THE most expensive spice in the world. ⁠

A kilogram (2.2 pounds) requires the stigmas of about 150,000 flowers. A pound (450g) can cost anywhere between $500-$5000. ⁠

The ancient Greeks prized saffron for its aroma, color, and its medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.⁠

Have you used saffron in your food or desserts?⁠



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Saffraan, een prachtig kruid waar je heerlijke mee kan koken. Mijn favoriet; saffraanrisotto. Als je ze zelf wilt kweken, plant ze dan nu!⁠
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Sources:

  • https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/207/2
  • https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/saffron
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron
  • https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-saffron
  • https://www.britannica.com/topic/saffron
  • https://www.thespruceeats.com/saffron-copycats-and-substitutes-1809282
  • https://www.businessinsider.com/why-real-saffron-is-so-expensive-2020-6?r=MX&IR=T

4 thoughts on “What is Saffron Spice – Why is it so expensive?

  1. Saffron is very costly so it is utilized sparingly in cooking. It is likewise a solid zest, so again it is utilized sparingly. A great deal of Indian, Pakistani and Persian food utilizes saffaron. Biryani is the most famous. Numerous treats are seasoned with the flavor. 

    A couple of strands of saffron blended in a 2 tbsp of warm water or Luke warm milk is the best method to draw out the saffron shading and flavor.

    Above all, I love the numerous health benefit it comes with of which you discussed briefly.

  2. Anthony Beatrice says:

    I had forgotten about saffron.  Though expensive, it has a lot of uses in foods.  It can also be used for various ailments, it makes me wonder if most of our medicines come from plants. I might want to check out Saffron, since it’s good with anxiety and helps you lose weight.  I need help in both of these categories.  Anything that helps with cancer is very valuable.  My conclusion is that saffron is a valuable spice to consume due to it’s many healthy aspects.

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