6 Most Expensive Spices In The World

6 Most Expensive Spices In The World

If you regularly do your own cooking in the kitchen, having a spice rack filled with different kinds of spices is definitely essential. They help to enhance or add complexity to the natural flavour of your dishes while cooking. Whereas most spices do not carry a high price tag, there are some others that prove to be costly for most average individuals. And here are the 6 Most Expensive Spices In The World.

1) Saffron

Saffron is like the Bugatti of spices. The kind that comes with a hefty price tag, where most average people would only dream about it. Depending on the quality of the saffron, it would cost around USD500 (RM 2,140) per pound (1 pound = 453.592 g). The reason? It all comes down to the painstaking harvesting process. The flower on a saffron plant blooms for one week of the year and each flower has only three saffron threads. Harvesting the threads alone requires a lot of work and patience. And due to their delicacy, it can be only done manually by hand. Since only a certain part of the flower is used, it would take a whopping 75,000 saffron flowers just to fulfil one pound of spice. Its distinctly earthy and floral aroma makes saffron versatile enough for many kinds of dishes. Simply adding a few strands of this luxury spice can help enhance the taste of Indian curries, Italian risottos and even teas.

Image Credit: britannica.com

2) Vanilla

No, we don’t mean the artificial vanilla flavour commonly found in most commercially-available ice creams. But rather the pure and actual vanilla beans coming from the pod. Native to Mexico, vanilla plants are also famously grown in places like Madagascar. The costliness of vanilla is largely due to its laborious work. The maturity period for the plants themselves take around 2 to 4 years. Not to mention their flowers only bloom for one day of the year and on that day itself, farmers must solely pollinate them by hand. Once harvested, these vanilla bean pods require a few months of the curing process. Quality vanilla can fetch a minimum price of USD50 (RM 214) per pound.

Pure Vanilla Ice Cream made from vanilla bean pods.
Image Credit: tasteofhome.com

3) Cardamom

Cardamom is typically synonymous with Indian cuisine, namely curries and briyanis. They have two types of them available, with the most common one being the green varieties and the other being black. Cardamom can also be used for desserts and tea beverages. If that’s not enough, they contain medicinal properties capable of treating digestive problems as well as gum and teeth infections. Like most spices in this list, harvesting cardamom itself requires a lot of hard work. Or more specifically, the labour-intensive handpicking process. Prices for a whole cardamom pod can reach around USD30 (RM 128.41) per pound.

Image Credit: masterclass.com

4) Cloves

At around USD10 (RM 42.78) per pound, there’s a specific reason why cloves are ranked among the most expensive spices in the world. Harvesting the cloves from their trees need to be done by hand. And that alone requires a large amount of labour. But that is not all, as cloves can only be harvested between 1.5 cm and 2 cm in terms of its measurement. For its usage, cloves are versatile enough for Asian and Western cuisines, thanks to its distinctly aromatic flavour.

Image Credit: thespruceeats.com

5) Kaffir Lime Leaves

Not your average lime varieties commonly found in most kitchens, kaffir lime leaves are a different story altogether. The leaves, typically in fresh or dried forms, are used to brighten up dishes. This includes most Thai and other Asian cuisines ranging from salads to curries and stir-fries. Taste-wise, the kaffir lime leaves boast a strong and fragrant aroma with a distinct lime flavour. And yes, they are expensive too, averaging at USD35 (RM 149.64) per pound. Such exorbitant price is mainly due to the harvesting process, which must be done by hand. But that’s the only beginning, as all the handpicking also involves enduring the long thorny branches as well.

Kaffir Lime Leaves
Image Credit: spiceography.com

6) Grains Of Paradise

Ever heard of grains of paradise? It’s safe to say that such name of the spice isn’t a common one for most people. Apparently, they originated from West Africa way back in the 14th century. Grains of paradise comes in the forms of round black seeds, almost similar to black peppers. Except for the fact that black peppers are considerably cheaper and easier to find compared to the former. Grains of paradise has a woodsy and peppery flavour, which can be used in various dishes. You can add them to the likes of oven-roasted or grilled dishes as well as salads or pastas. The high cost of these particular spices — averaging at USD31 (RM 132.54) per pound — is largely due to their lack of demand and availability.

Grains of Paradise
Image Credit: spiceography.com

Now that you learned about the world’s most expensive spices, you might want to check out this article about essential herbs and spices for your kitchen needs.