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The most expensive and most luxurious spice in the world has earned the nickname red gold. Why does saffron have such a high price and why are we willing to pay so much money for it?

Saffron – the most luxurious spice in the world

Eva Ledecká
15.Jan 2017
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1 minute

You can pay as much as CZK 1,600 for one gram of saffron, which means that it costs even more than precious metals. How is that at all possible?

Saffron - the flower
Saffron - the unique spice
Spanish paella with saffron

Luxury hidden away in a flower

Saffron was known to mankind even in the time before the Christian era. It was used in almost all dishes and was used in abundance in ancient Egypt as product to bring harmony to the whole body.

Its price is so high in particular due to its method of harvesting which is dependent on manual work. In order to gain 0.5 kg of this luxurious spice, we would have to hand pick 200,000 thin red stamens from a total of 70,000 saffron flowers.

Luxusní vila na prodej, Dolní Měcholupy - 616m
Luxusní vila na prodej, Dolní Měcholupy - 616m, Praha 10

Approximately 250 tonnes of saffron are produced every year in the world and 90% comes from Iran. This country is the centre of cultivation of luxury saffron which has a long tradition here dating back approximately 3,000 years.

Beneficial effects of this luxurious spice

Saffron is claimed to have beneficial effects on our body. It helps with eye and liver problems, gout and asthma. It was used by the ancient Greeks to suppress cramps and relieve pain. Research indicates that it could also have anti-depressant effects. However, its positive effects could be completely reversed when eaten in large amounts, so excess consumption could cause serious problems.

A unique spice for use in various dishes

Saffron is in particular used as a luxury spice to add to dishes. It is added to drinks, desserts and to meats. It gives dishes a slightly bitter taste and yellow colour. Spanish paella could surely not even exist within saffron. Saffron is also grown in Spain, but its quality comes nowhere close to that of the saffron grown in Iran, which among other things has a location with luxurious conditions for its cultivation to thank for its quality.

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