Why is saffron so expensive? – Things to know

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Saffron is a spice extracted from the flower of a crocus. It is obtained by dehydration of its three red stigmas. He hails from the Middle East, especially from Iran, and was cultivated for the first time in the Greek provinces by the Minoan civilization more than 35 centuries ago. Today, if Spain produces a lot, we also grow in France.

If I speak to you it is to be interested in its price. At retail saffron is worth approximately 1500 € per kilo.
Why is the so-called “Red Gold” so expensive?

The high price of saffron is explained by the difficulty of extracting, manually, a large number of small stigmas, which are the only parts of the flower to have the desired aromatic properties.
In addition, a very large number of flowers must be treated to finally obtain a quantity likely to be sold: it takes 150 flowers to obtain 1 gram of dry saffron. Less than half a kilo of dry saffron requires the harvest of nearly 50,000 to 75,000 flowers, a minimum cultivation area equivalent to that of a football field. Another difficulty, the flowers themselves have a very short flowering period.

All these reasons make saffron, following the courses of course, is often much more expensive than gold.

Lastly, it is said that Cleopatra poured a quarter of a cup of saffron into her hot baths with donkey milk for her cosmetic properties and her dye qualities. She also used it before meeting men, persuaded of its aphrodisiac qualities.

Dr. Kimberly Seltzer

Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley Research Assistant, MIT

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