Saffron: edible gold to eat

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Its price ranges between 10 and 15,000 euros for 1 kilo. To produce a kilo of saffron, it takes more than 200,000 flowers, here he is easily explained why it's so expensive. This spice is used to make both sweet and savoury dishes: risotto with saffron, the famous Spanish paella, the least common tea or ice cream with saffron and many other dishes have become famous precisely thanks to this spice.

A local woman extracts stigmas from the flowers of crocus sativus, the saffron crocus, during the saffron harvest in the central Spanish village of Consuegra. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Some studies believe that saffron also has anticancer properties and it may help to cure diseases such as gastritis, depression, anxiety and insomnia. The best quality of saffron comes from Iran, but it is very rare and expensive. Usually in Europe it is easier to find a cheap and also quite good quality saffron from Spain. 

Each saffron flower blooms only once a year and the stamens have to be hand-picked to ensure the highest quality product, then they need to be dried for few days to be sold. It takes more than 100 flowers to produce just 1 gram of saffron, incredible, isn't it? Precisely because of its high cost and the amount of work that it requires, some manufacturers add to the saffron other spices with almost the same colour to earn more. The harvest takes place between late October and early November.

Saffron is not only and always used to prepare drinks and food, but it was also used in antiquity to scent pillows or dissolved in hot water, was dale Greek women used to perfume the floors. It is said that Cleopatra used the saffron to give her skin a golden colour, but women also used it to colour their cheeks or their nails. During the Middle Ages, saffron was a really expensive spice, like nowadays: 500 grams of saffron were worth almost as much as a horse.

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