Why do jewellery shops in central London charge as much as $1,200 to make a single ring with saffron in it? Why not a $20 gold set for a wedding? In short, it’s because saffron is a key ingredient — an essential, if you will.
If you’ve never spent any time in a jewelry shop before, you’re probably wondering how to tell between saffron and other flowers, or, more specifically, the difference between natural saffron and synthetic.
When saffron leaves the ground they are yellow, green or red. The saffron plants grow as underground blooms and, when they fall, they produce tiny seeds called petals, which grow in the fall until winter and, at that time, begin to rot.
When the petals are exposed to high temperatures these tiny seeds break open and the petals release their seeds. Those seeds germinate and form new saffron flower, which in turn are fertilised by saffron and give rise to a new saffron flower. Eventually, saffron flowers will grow to grow into an even larger flower, which in turn can produce saffron flower — all the while creating oil which, with every step of our cooking, is absorbed into our skin and can cause a burn!
So, where are these saffron flowers sourced? Is this even worth buying?
Let’s be honest, saffron is not cheap at all. It is produced by ancient Indian plants, growing underground where they can flourish as blossoms, without ever being exposed to sunlight. These ancient Indian plants grow on rocks or on hard surfaces — and, for these, saffron is a rare commodity, only growing in central and south India, and not far from the Arabian Sea.
The process of growing it on a rock or on a hard surface is extremely slow and arduous. Most times, the saffron flowers are harvested from underground and then put in the oven — and then kept in a dry, dark space until ready to be consumed. This time requires meticulous observation and careful handling — something saffron cannot offer.
The extraction and processing of saffron for this purpose costs approximately $100 per pound, and, in addition to the cost to the landowner, the saffron flowers are also subject to being destroyed and exported as undesirable or dangerous refuse, and are also considered a nuisance for neighbours.
The cost of harvesting these
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