It is early morning in a saffron field, northeast Iran, where dozens of farmers are gathering delicate purple flowers as many as they can before the sun gets too hot.

Iran (IMNA) - Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. It’s not because this crocus is hard to grow; rather, it’s due to a small window in which the red stigmas should be manually harvested and delicately dried as an incredibly time-consuming process.

On average, workers pick ten kilograms of flowers per day. When they are harvested, the tiny orange stigmas are separated by hand and dried; only one kilogram of the pungent spice requires 400,000 of these tiny orange stigmas.

Beginning in November, the tricky harvesting process lasts only a few weeks before the blossoms start to wither. In fact, the saffron crocus blooms within a week or two and it requires prompt picking before they become limp.

Iran currently produces more than 200 tons of saffron annually. Today, it accounts for more than 90% of global saffron production, with much smaller amounts grown in India, Spain, Greece, and Afghanistan.

The country exported a total of $65.71 million worth of saffron to some 65 countries during the first six months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Sept. 22), according to Iran National Saffron Council.

Also known as red gold, saffron, with its purple hue, has long been stapled to Iranian kitchens. A tablespoon of stigma comes from 40 bulbs. Moreover, it has found its way to knowledge-based businesses for medical uses, like anti-depressants, stress reduction, blood pressure, anti-inflammatory, etc.

The most expensive spice in the world, saffron, is well suited to the dry climate and was first grown in ancient land at least 2,000 years ago. It can cost up to $1,800 per kilogram, even beating the price of gold!


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