What is Saffron and Why is it so Expensive?

Decoding Saffron – whether it is a magic spice or simply overrated

Decoding Saffron – Whether It is a Magic Spice or Simply Overrated

Saffron – an exclusive spice name often associated with Asian/ Middle Eastern cuisine or for that matter any exquisite cooking recipes. Just a very small quantity also adds a rich look and takes the entire dish to another level. Even though, the most commonly known use of saffron is as an edible spice, it has been in use for varied medical and therapeutic uses across globe since ages.

Having said that it would be interesting to understand and know, exactly what is saffron – a spice variety or is it just an overrated herb? How is it grown and what makes saffron so exclusive and expensive?

What is Saffron and Why is it so expensive?

Saffron is actually a flower extract that requires laborious manual harvesting methods to cultivate even a small amount. It blooms for a very limited time that too only in the autumn season and the most favourable climatic conditions are cold yet humid or post rain months. The best grounds are slopy mountain tops that are known to be cold yet have sunny patches during autumn. Making the regions of western Asia one of the most preferred cultivating grounds. One of the primal reasons that make saffron from western Asia so authentic and so sought after.

How much does saffron cost in UK?

Surprisingly, we all know that how costly even few threads of saffron are. What is the factor that causes it to be so out of reach to common people. One of the most important aspects to note here would be the unending and unique qualities of saffron. One might ask, there are many other herbs and spices which have equally aromatic and visually unique properties, but that is not the only thing that makes it super exclusive and expensive.

As stated earlier, saffron is extracted from a flower which are of sterile nature, which means it does not produce reproductive seeds. It requires tremendous and continuous manual intervention to reap a good quality batch of saffron flowers. The stigma of the saffron flower which blooms only for a week or two in the autumn season, has to be plucked and dried manually. Not only that but only 2-3 threads can be cultivated from one flower.

How much does 1g of Saffron Cost?

Calculating by this, for gathering 1 gm of saffron costing £13-£18 ($15-$21), around 150-200 flowers of saffron are required.

Combined with the extensive laborious process and high benefits of saffron, it is worth every penny sent behind it.

Is Saffron really so useful or is it just overhyped?

Beyond the use as a spice, saffron also has a very wide range of health benefits. It is highly recommended to improve skin tone and pigmentation, claims to help in reducing inflammation.  Researchers have also found a connection between cure of early Alzheimer’s with regular use of saffron. The rich antioxidant property of saffron enables it to be beneficial to prevent and assist in early stages of Parkinson’s and various other neurological disorders. It also has a capability to lessen the appetite and aid in weight loss as well. Since, the age of Cleopatra, it is a believed to be used in beauty regimes by people of both genders. It is believed that she not only used to consume it but also used to use it for bathing, as saffron is very useful in reducing hyperpigmentation of skin and offers a natural glow.

Saffron is known for its amazingly refreshing aroma that is unmatched, quite similar to the rich flavour and colour it possesses. A small amount added in any cuisine or dish can elevate its richness in terms of visual and olfactory ways. Mere addition of 4-5 threads works wonders but imparting the bright crimson colour to the base. The aroma can be compared to that of a rustic and earthy flavour.

In olden days it is also said that the Buddhist monks used saffron as dye to colour their attire. But, in recent times turmeric and other commercial dyes are used as cheaper replacements. However, there is no replacement for saffron when it comes to the earthy aroma it exudes or the bright natural colour and flavour it provides to the food. In Asia and Middle east during pregnancy saffron is included for aiding the proper development of the foetus and to ensure good skin health of the child.

What is the rate of Saffron 1 kg?

When bought in larger quantities the cost of saffron tends to be somewhat reasonable. Viewing its long list of benefits it is wise to buy in bulk and store. Large quantities can be stored in freezer in air tight containers for a very long period of time. Only care should be taken is that it should not be crushed or ground before storing, as this will result in saffron its aroma and essence partially. So by figuring out how much 1 KG of saffron costs in UK and reaching out to an authentic and genuine supplier can help you reap the immense benefits offered by saffron. So and the cost for 1KG would be approximately £12000-£15000 ($14000-$17500).

It is also known that one needs only 2-3 threads of saffron for consumption in one go. This means 1 KG saffron can be easily stored and consumed regularly for up to two years. Please note that consuming large quantities can have toxic impact on one’s body.

How do you identify if the Saffron is Fresh and Genuine?

The key pointers to identify fresh stock of saffron is that, when fresh this flower extract is in a very bright crimson colour with just a hint of moisture and elasticity in it. If it is not fresh, it’ll tend to be broken and dry. The hue of the stigmas should be bright red or orangish but a yellowish stigma indicates a dried version.

When a good quality of saffron is bought in bulk and stored correctly, it can be retained in all its glory and richness and used regularly for as long as a period of two years.

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