SAFFRON-THE MOST EXPENSIVE SPICE IN THE WORLD

Saffron as everyone knows, is an amazing spice used in various cuisines just for its certain flavour, fragrance or natural food colouring. But have you ever wondered why is it so costly? It is a luxury to just buy a few quantities of saffron because just a few strands are quite costly and not all are able to afford to buy it. During various periods, saffron was considered equivalent to commodities like gold. Iran is the major producer of this spice manufacturing about 90% of world saffron. Countries like India, Italy, Spain, United Arab Emirates and China etc. are also producers contributing about 10% of total saffron produced in the world. I’ve mostly seen saffron being used in sweets giving it a beautiful golden colour which leaves us mouth watering. It is also being used in very little quantities. Is it due to its cost or does it have an impact on health when used in large quantities?

The reason behind is exorbitant price is due the difficult growing process. Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus. The stigmas of the flowers ( called threads ) are dried and are used to make saffron. But this step is not quite easy. Farmers must harvest the delicate threads by hand. Thus this needs a lot of labour work and is hence quite expensive. Also another factor contributing to its cost is the huge land area needed to cultivate the flowers and it takes 75,000 flowers just to make a pound of saffron. Under specific conditions, like well-drained and rich soil, it blossoms just a week in an year. One side being used in cooking, on the other side, it also has some medicinal properties. Saffron is filled with antioxidants.

USES OR BENEFITS

Saffron has many uses such as

  • Providing antioxidants such as crocin, picrocrocin and safranal which helps to guard a person’s health.
  • Saffron is a good medicine to boost the mood of a person who is especially in depression. Saffron extract along with antidepressants have shown good results in improving the symptoms of depression patients.
  • Saffron is also used to treat Alzheimer disease. Taking a specific saffron extract for 22 weeks can improve the symptoms of the disease.
  • Saffron is also used to treat anxiety. However saffron is not useful to treat say, anxiety and depression at the same time.
  • There is also some evidence that it helps promote weight loss.
  • Also heals complexities

RISKS OR SIDE EFFECTS OF SAFFRON

Anything that is taken in more quantities than what is prescribed can lead to ruin. Saffron also contains some risks. High doses of about 5 grams or more can cause poisoning. Doses of about12-20 grams can cause death. Allergic reactions can occur in some individuals when consumed.

FAKE SAFFRONS

Since it is well known that saffron is very expensive, some people indulge in frauds by selling fake saffron because it is easy to make huge money. Corn husk is one of the items that is used to make fake threads. The original and fake look exactly same so how can we ensure we buy the original one? One way is to buy it from a trustworthy or known seller. The other way is to test its purity. Add some saffron threads into water and wait for sometime. The original threads will colour the water and still look the same. If it fake, the threads would either look faded or totally lose its colour.