By Iman Sadri
October 16, 2020
Iran is known for having some of the most valuable exports in the world. Caviar. Silver. Crude Oil. Silk Rugs. No spice, however rivals in value to that of Saffron. 90 % of the world’s saffron comes from Iran. At $5,000 per pound saffron is by far the world’s most expensive spice. A distant second is vanilla at $600 per pound. The majority of Persian saffron comes from Khorasan, in North-East Iran. Dubbed as ‘Red Gold’ saffron possesses many health and cooking benefits. Saffron acts as an antioxidant and has cancer-fighting properties. The spice is harvested from the stigma of the Crocus Sativus flower.
What makes saffron so expensive is the manual labor and amount of crocus flower required to harvest just one pound. A pound of saffron requires 200,000 saffron stigmas to be hand-picked from 70,000 crocus flowers. Saffron is used extensively in Persian cooking. It’s added to Tahdig, Tahchin, Sholeh Zard, Barberry Rice, and Persian Ice Cream, among many other dishes. Ancient Persian saffron dates back to the 10 th century B.C. Saffron is not just limited to Persians, however. Ancient Greeks, Sumerians, and Egyptians had many uses for saffron. Alexander the Great was known to bathe in saffron infused water. He cited that the saffron helped heal this wounds.