In this article, we have tried to explain the reason for the large price difference between different types of saffron. Unfortunately, the low quality of this valuable product with the aim of reducing the price has led to the existence of counterfeit types of this product in the market at a very low price. Knowing these tips will help you choose the best and most nutritious saffron.
Saffron Price in 2018
People hearing about saffron spice for the first time may wonder why it is so expensive. In fact, this is a spice that easily costs up to thousands of dollars per pound.
So, why is the saffron spice price so high, and how does the best saffron look like? Let’s find out below.
How much is saffron spice price?
Saffron is unarguably the most expensive spice you can find on the planet. It’s usually sold in a few grams or even ounces, just a few red threads of this delicate and exquisite tasting plant make up a few grams.
On the market, premium quality best saffron costs around 3000$ for 2 pounds (about 1 kilogram) so at that price, a pound could cost up to 1830$.
Such pricing makes saffron spice even more expensive than gold today. That’s why it’s commonly referred to as “red gold.”
But when you consider certain factors explained below, it's not hard to see why this spice costs so much.
Compared to other plants that can grow in several regions worldwide and still produce the same quality of the harvest, the saffron plant is a very finicky and selective one exclusive to some regions.
The best quality saffron spice comes from a tiny part of only one plant on Earth; the stigmata of the Crocus status flower also known as "saffron crocus." In addition, you can only get 3 stigmata at the most from each flower. At that rate, to get the commercial quantity of dried saffron requires harvesting anywhere from 80,000 flowers and above at a time.
The Crocus status is also a very picky plant that won’t grow just anywhere. It needs specific climatic conditions such as rain, temperature, and good soil with natural manures to grow easily. That’s why our Persian grown saffron spice is the best quality in the world because the Persian climate is its natural habitat and is just right for optimum yield.
The extraction process
To date, there is no mechanized way to safely harvest saffron stigmata from the flower. Because the threads themselves are so delicate, every single one of them must be removed gently and tenderly by hand. After removal from the flower, the stigmata are expertly dried quickly to retain their deep red color, unique flavor, and prevent moisture during packaging. The flowers are also small and grow very close to the ground making the entire process labor-intensive.
Connoisseurs of fine living can testify to the unique benefits of saffron spice for cooking, its health benefits, and other uses. Even as far back as the middle ages, the ancient Greeks used it and so did the Chinese and the Romans for perfume, cloth dye, and medicinal potions.
How Does The Best Saffron Look Like?
Today, you can find references to saffron growing in parts of the Mediterranean, Spain, France, Italy, and Iran. But be informed that the quality will vary.
The major problem is the tendency for some sellers to mix a small quantity of saffron with cheaper spices and sell it off as the best quality to maximize profit. So how do buyers identify the best quality saffron spice because there is no point in spending all that money to get less than premium quality spice? There are some common indications.
- Color: Probably the quickest indication of a pure vs. adulterated saffron product is the color. All the threads should have the same vivid crimson red color. Be especially careful if you are buying it in powder form because some of the cheaper saffron producers choose to leave in the yellow stamens which are tasteless to add some weight. This dilutes the final color and reduces the expected taste of the saffron spice. This habit of mixing saffron is unfortunately common in street corner stores and some sellers mix it with other spices especially turmeric and marigold. If you are not buying the powder form but the threads instead, check that the tips of each stigma are all vivid red color. This is a good indication that you are buying saffron that is all-natural and pure. As a general rule, it’s better to avoid buying powdered saffron entirely. Another indication is to drop just one strand of saffron in a small bowl of water, original saffron will turn the water yellow. But fake saffron does the same thing too. So take the saffron thread out of the water, if it still retains its color, it is original.
- Taste and Aroma: Check the saffron you want to buy with your senses of taste and smell. If you put a thread of saffron in your mouth and it tastes noticeably sweet, then it’s fake. Interestingly, saffron is one spice whose taste and aroma can be difficult to explain. The best quality saffron has a strong and unmistakable smell comparable to honey but with a grassy undertone.
- Packaging: It may not sound like much, but the packaging of the saffron can tell you a lot. It should come in a tiny, airtight, and lightproof container with a lab-certified rating grade clearly printed on it. If you see saffron being sold in large and inexpensive containers, know that you’re being offered a much cheaper mix or another spice entirely such as marigold. Such spices may give the food the same color as saffron but will taste nothing like original saffron.
- Texture: Take one saffron thread in your fingers and rub lightly, it should feel dry and brittle. If it’s slightly damp to the touch, it means there was moisture left in the pack to increase the weight.
Yes, the saffron spice price makes it is one of the most expensive substances you can find, but try it in your cooking, and you would have to agree that its taste is well worth the price. Best of all, you need very little, just about 2 or 3 strands to add color and flavor to your entire dish.