For centuries Saffron has remained a precious spice in all sorts of foods whether it is a festival, occasion or some home recipes, it has always kept its symbol alive in the minds of people around the world. If we see from a medical perspective, Saffron comes in the list of top Superfoods.
From ancient times Saffron has been a Legendary food and it has its own history. Emperors in Egypt used Saffron to dye clothing, scent perfume, and flavour food. Alexander the Great is claimed to have added it to his baths to aid in the healing of battle wounds, whereas Cleopatra’s skin acquired a beautiful glow by taking a bath with saffron-flavored water,.
Due to its delicate cultivation and harvesting process it is considered the rarest spice in the world. This spice is actually derived from the stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower, which is native to Southwest Asia. The stigmas must be hand-picked, and it takes around 75,000 flowers to produce just one pound of saffron. This labour-intensive process, combined with the limited geographical location where the flowers can be grown, makes saffron a rare and expensive commodity.
Saffron crocuses grow best in climates with hot summers and cold winters, and they take about three years to mature. Saffron is often called “the world’s most expensive spice” because of its high price and rarity. Saffron is used in culinary dishes from all over the world, and it has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.
Saffron is a beautiful, red-orange spice with a long history. It’s been used in cooking and medicine for centuries, and today it’s prized for its unique flavour and health benefits.
other reasons why saffron is considered rare:
- Limited growing region: Saffron is derived from the stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower, which is native to Southwest Asia. It can only be grown in specific climates with well-draining soil, and the growing region is relatively small.
- Labor-intensive harvesting process: The stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower must be hand-picked, and it takes around 75,000 flowers to produce just one pound of saffron which adds to the rarity and high cost of saffron.
- Low yield: The yield of saffron is relatively low compared to other crops, which also contributes to its rarity and high cost.
- High demand: Saffron is highly prized for its unique flavour and aroma, and there is a high demand for it, which can drive up the price.
What makes this extraordinary spice on the planet so expensive?
The high cost of saffron is due to its labour-intensive harvesting process as well as its uniqueness. Only 70,000 pounds (32 metric tons) of saffron are produced each year worldwide. In comparison, vanilla beans are harvested at a rate of 11 million pounds (5 metric tons) per year. This makes finding genuine saffron even more difficult and expensive. When purchasing saffron, be sure to buy from a reputable source to ensure you are getting the real thing.
Where is Saffron/Kesar grown and cultivated:
- Iran: Iran is the world’s largest producer of saffron, producing around 90% of the global supply.
- India (Kashmir): India is the second-largest producer of saffron, with the majority of production occurring in the Kashmir region.
- Spain: Spain is the third-largest producer of saffron, with the majority of production occurring in the La Mancha region.
But Kashmiri saffron, also known as “Mogra Saffron,” is a high-quality variety of saffron that is grown and cultivated in the Kashmir Valley region of India.
It is known for its deep red colour, delicate flavour, and aroma. Kashmiri saffron is considered one of the most expensive and most unique spice in the world due to its unique growing conditions and the labour-intensive process of harvesting and processing the saffron stigmas.
The Kashmir region has a cool, dry climate that is ideal for growing saffron, and the saffron plants are grown at high elevations in well-draining soil. The saffron stigmas are carefully hand-picked and then dried in the sun or in special drying rooms. The process of harvesting and processing saffron is time-consuming and requires a lot of labour, which adds to the cost of the final product.
In addition to its high quality and rareness, the demand for Kashmiri saffron is also high, which contributes to its high price.
Did you know:
- Saffron was once so valuable that it was worth more than gold. In fact, it was used as currency in some cultures.
- Saffron is a common ingredient in paella.
- Saffron is sometimes used as a natural food colouring.
- Saffron is a member of the lily family.
Some common recipes that use saffron are:
- Saffron rice: This is a popular dish in which rice is cooked with saffron threads to give it a distinctive yellow colour and flavour.
- Saffron chicken: This is a dish in which chicken is cooked with saffron, often along with other spices and ingredients like onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
- Saffron seafood: Saffron is often used to flavour seafood dishes, such as paella and bouillabaisse.
- Saffron desserts: Saffron is also used in some sweet recipes, such as saffron ice cream, saffron panna cotta, and saffron-flavoured cakes and pastries.
- Saffron tea: Saffron can also be used to flavour tea, giving it a unique and aromatic flavour
- Kashmiri Kehwa: “Kehwa” is a traditional tea beverage from the Kashmir region of India. It is made with a blend of green tea leaves, spices, and sometimes saffron. The tea is brewed with water and then strained and served hot.The spices used in Kashmiri Kahwa vary, but typically include cardamom, cinnamon, and sometimes clove and fennel. Kashmiri Kehwa is often served during special occasions and celebrations in Kashmir, and is also a popular drink in the colder months. It is typically served in small cups, and may be sweetened with sugar or honey. Some people also add milk to the tea to give it a creamy flavor.
- Sweets: In India and other parts of the world, this unique spice of the world is added in sweets like Gulab Jamun, Jalebi, Kheer/ Payasam, Shrikhand, Patishapta with Strawberry Couli, Pistachio Praline Parfait, Rasgulla, Ladoo, Kulfi, Gajar Ka Halwa, Rasmalai
Apart from that, there are many other recipes that use saffron as well, including stews, soups, and sauces. It is a versatile spice that can add a unique and complex flavour to a wide range of dishes.
Health benefits of Kashmiri Saffron/Kesar:
This exceptional spice of the world has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and has been associated with a number of potential health benefits as it is loaded with tons of health benefits for both men and women. Some of the potential health benefits of saffron include:
- Reducing anxiety and stress: Some research suggests that saffron may have anxiolytic effects, meaning that it may help to reduce anxiety and stress.
- Improving mood: Saffron has also been shown to have antidepressant properties and may be effective in treating mild to moderate depression.
- Promoting cardiovascular health: Saffron has been shown to have a number of potential cardiovascular benefits, including reducing blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels.
- Improving brain function: Some studies have suggested that saffron may have neuroprotective effects and may be beneficial for brain function, particularly in older adults.
- Reducing PMS symptoms: Saffron has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Helps in Rejuvenating Skin :
- Brightening the skin: Saffron has been traditionally used to brighten the skin and give it a more youthful appearance. It is thought to work by inhibiting the production of melanin, which can cause dark spots and uneven skin tone.
- Reducing inflammation: Saffron is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to reduce redness and swelling in the skin.
- Improving skin texture: Saffron may also help to improve the texture of the skin, making it smoother and more radiant.
- Reducing acne: Saffron may have antibacterial properties that can help to reduce acne and improve the overall health of the skin.
Is Saffron worth the price?
Due to its high price per weight, it is often called the “world’s most expensive spice” But is it really worth the price?
Here are some things to consider when thinking about the cost of saffron:
– Saffron is very difficult to harvest. It takes around 75,000 stigmas (the red parts of the flower) to make just one pound of saffron. That’s a lot of flowers!
– Saffron has a strong flavor, so you don’t need to use a lot of it to add flavor to your dish. A little goes a long way!
So, is saffron worth the price? It depends. If you’re paying top dollar for fake saffron, then probably not. But if you can find genuine saffron at a reasonable price, then it may be worth considering adding it to your next meal!
Where can you buy it?
When it comes to purchasing saffron, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, because saffron is such a rare and precious spice, it is important to only buy from reputable sources. There are many counterfeiters out there who will try to sell you fake or low-quality saffron, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase.
In terms of price, saffron can vary greatly depending on quality and quantity. Generally speaking, the best quality saffron will cost around $30 per gram. However, you can also find cheaper options that may be lower in quality but still provide some of the characteristic flavor and aroma of saffron.
When purchasing saffron, it is also important to keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Just a few threads of this spice can enhance the flavor and aroma of dishes, so you don’t need to use large quantities in order to get the desired effect.
Saffron is known as the rarest and most expensive spice on Earth. The unique flavor of saffron makes it a sought-after ingredient in many dishes around the world, and its vibrant color gives food an added visual appeal. Saffron may be hard to come by and difficult to harvest, but those who have tried it can attest that its delicate aroma and rich flavor are worth every penny. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious treat or just want to add something special to your next dish, saffron might be just what you’re looking for.