Sunday, August 18, 2013
Kashmiri Saffron - World's Costliest Spice
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus and is considered to be the most expensive spice of the world.
Saffron has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years for its unique flavor and strong coloring power. The expensive spice can have a bright orange-yellow color with a distinct scent, and is sold in either powder form, but deep red filaments are preferable to avoid adulteration. More than 150 volatile and aroma-yielding compounds are in Saffron, which has been used as a medicine and aphrodisiac in previous times. It is also used as aromatic in baths, perfumes and dyes.
It's not the flavor nor any health benefits associated with the reddish-yellow spice, which has made it the most expensive spice in the world. Rather, its the cultivation process.
It has been estimated that approximately one acre of purple crocuses, the flower from which saffron threads are harvested, will yield only one pound of saffron. This is because each crocus flower only produces 3 threads of saffron. About 14,000 threads (actually the dried stigmas of the crocus flower) equals one ounce of saffron, so that should give you an idea of the labor intensive process that goes into harvesting saffron threads.
Saffron is produced in countries such as Greece, Spain, Turkey, Iran, India and Morocco, and then sold in different grades by color, taste and fragrance.
Kashmir is considered one of the three prominent cultivating places of saffron all over the world. Kashmiri saffron is seen as the legend of the saffron species where it has been grown in the fields of Pampore near Srinagar for close to 2500 years. Kashmiri saffron is recognisable by its dark maroon-purple hue; it is among the world's darkest, which hints at strong flavour, aroma, and colourative effect. There are three grades of saffron available in Indian market and they are known as Saffron Lachha, saffron Mongra and saffron Zarda. While Iran accounts for about 70% of total world production, the quality of the Kashmiri saffron is considered the best and the finest.
I don't claim the information to be my own. It has been collected from various sources