Saffron might be the most expensive (legal) crop in the world. Selling for around $2500 per pound, it’s certainly the most expensive culinary herb
It’s hard to describe what saffron tastes like, but most people describe it as a floral honey flavor.
Why does it cost so much? Saffron is made out of the stigmas (the part of the flower that gets germinated by pollen) from the crocus plant.
It takes approximately 75,000 flowers to produce one pound of dried saffron.
But to grow that many crocus flowers takes just a quarter acre of land, so you get some idea of how lucrative this crop could be to grow.
Saffron grows best in California and other dry regions with mild winters.
Planting them in polytunnels or greenhouses can make them a viable crop in other regions though.
The saffron crocus can’t be easily grown from seed. To grow it, you need to plant corms, which are the fleshy tuberous roots of the plant. Other than that, crocuses aren’t a hard crop to grow.
Over the years, crocus corms divide. Meaning you can separate them and replant to increase your own farm size, or sell your surplus to other farmers.
The hard part of growing saffron is the harvesting process, which is ridiculously labor intensive. You need to delicately pick the flowers as they bloom, and then pull out the three blossoms per flower.
Remember that it takes about 150 blossoms just to make a single gram of dried saffron.
The labor cost is the main reason why saffron is typically grown in Iran and other countries with lower wages instead of in North America, despite the crops’s high selling price.