Some foods are considered luxury items due to their scarcity, quality and high production costs. They are often used in gourmet cooking and are prized for both their unique flavor and history. Among these foods are caviar, Kobe beef or white truffles. However, the most expensive is probably saffron.
Why is saffron expensive?
Saffron is a spice made from dried stigmas of crocus sativus flower, a plant belonging to the iris family. Its cultivation is a very labour-intensive activity that requires great attention to detail. In late summer, the bulbs are planted for the first time on specially prepared fields. The flowers then begin to grow in early fall, then bloom for about three weeks.
Crocus flowers are purple with several dark red stigmas inside. have the latter picked by hand early in the morning to prevent them from becoming brittle under the influence of the afternoon heat. After harvesting, they must be dried immediately, either by sun drying or low temperature kilns. One must about 150,000 flowers to produce a kilogram of saffron, which is why this spice is so expensive. The price of saffron can of course vary depending on the quality and origin. Those of Spain, considered one of the most expensive, can be sold several thousand euros per kilogram.
Saffron has been used for it for thousands of years culinary properties. In particular, it allows to add flavor and color to dishes. It is often found in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in rice dishes such as Spanish paella. This precious spice is also known for it medicinal properties. It contains several compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticonvulsant properties. Because of this, saffron is used to treat a number of health conditions such as anxiety, depression, menstrual cramps and insomnia.
A food that is often counterfeited
Of course, due to its high price, saffron is sometimes counterfeited, which helps to increase profits. One of the most common methods is to mix pure saffron with other ingredients, such as corn or turmeric, to increase volume and reduce production costs. Others also add additives or artificial colors that can be toxic. In some cases, crocus stigmas can even be replaced with other parts of the plant or animal hair.
There are several steps you can take to avoid buying counterfeit saffron:
- Buy from trusted suppliers : Look for the most reputable and established.
- Check the provenance : Spanish saffron, for example, is considered one of the best in the world.
- Avoid low prices : If the price of saffron is too low compared to other suppliers, it could be a sign of counterfeiting.
- Check the appearance : Pure saffron is usually dark red and has a uniform appearance.