Why is Saffron So Expensive?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 by Kerry A.

I found a recipe that called for Saffron.  Boy was I shocked when a couple little fibers were going to cost me $15.00!  Holy Cow!  Saffron is known as the most expensive spice in the world. But why is Saffron so expensive?

Purple Crocus FlowerSafron consists of the dried stigmas of the purple crocus.  The expense comes from the extraordinary labor involved in harvesting and preparing it for storage. There are only 3 stigmas (referred to as saffron threads) per flower.  Also adding to the expense is the fact that 80,000 flowers (or one acre) are needed to obtain one pound of Saffron. About 14,000 threads equals one ounce of saffron.  Spain grows more Saffron than any other nation in the World, with India coming in second. The area of south-central Spain called La Mancha produces the world's best Saffron.

Saffron can be sold as threads, or as a ground powder.  Most culinary experts prefer the threads, as the flavor is typically stronger. Saffron enhances the flavors of many styles of cuisine. Rice and pasta dishes come alive with a pinch of Saffron. Seafood is wonderful with a Saffron-infused broth or rub some chicken with fine threads of Saffron. Remember to use sparingly, because the flavor explodes when added to dishes.Saffron on Sea Scallops

Luckily, since my original hunt for the pricey spice, Swanson has started to carry Saffron Threads and the price is much more reasonable...as would be expected from the Low Cost Leader for Natural Health Products (including natural organic foods and spices)!


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