株式会社ESF

2020.04.30

Expensive spices in the world


Tracing back to ancient Egypt and China, spices have been with us for centuries. The use of spice goes beyond  culinary purposes as they are also used as medicinal treatments and in the world of health and beauty.

From spicy chilli powders to the sweet taste of vanilla beans, spices have certainly made our cuisine more flavourful and colourful.

In earlier times some spices were used for trading as a currency and new land exploration and trade routes often lowered their value.

Some spices can be cheap whereas others can break your bank. 

Market, Stand, Spices, Food

The price range can vary from $0.5 to $ 5000 per pound. The cost can be high depending on the way it is harvested or cultivated.

1. Saffron

The world’s most expensive spice is saffron and it is native in Central Asia. It consists only of the stigma of flowers and each flower has only three stigmas.To collect one pound of saffron it requires 20 hours of intensive labor and requires around 70-80,000 flowers.

Saffron, Red, Real, Real Saffron

It is an Indian/Middle eastern spice with a floral and earthy taste. Only one small spoon will transform your dish with it’s golden yellow colour and of course it’s unique flavour.Today saffron is grown in Italy, Spain, Greece, India, Iran but the best quality saffron comes from Kashmir. 

Centuries ago saffron was deemed to be worth its weight in gold. In cuisine is no doubt considered a culinary treasure with a wide variety of usage in cooking, cosmetics, medicines.

  2.  Vanilla

 It is considered the second most expensive spice in the world. From ice creams and other sweet treats to perfumes, body lotions, etc. Vanilla is certainly everywhere! Mexico and Madagascar produce some of the best vanilla in the world. Is also quite labor intensive requiring   the flowers to be hand-pollinated, ripened, and then handpicked on a daily basis. Currently, the price of vanilla is valued at $600 per kilo, which is 10 times more costly compared to a few years ago. Nearly 80% of the world’s vanilla is grown in Madagascar, but originally vanilla was found in Mexico. Next time you eat vanilla ice cream you should consider that you are consuming the second most expensive spice in the world.

Vanilla, Pod, Sugar, Bowl, Food, Sweet
Ice Cream, Ice, Dessert, Delicious

3.Long Peppers  

Long Peppers are currently traded at $45 per kilo which puts them third on the list of expensive spices. 

A long time ago in ancient Greece and Rome, this spice was heavily used but nowadays it is not commonly used in the kitchen.The arrival of chilli peppers pushed the long pepper out of the limelight. The taste is similar to black pepper however when heated  a hint of nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon can be discerned Southern India uses them mostly for curries and lentil stews.

Long Peppers | Long Pepper, Piper Longum
Photo Credit: Long peppers

They are also known for their medicinal properties, sometimes used to treat stomach related problems and headaches or to improve the appetite and digestion.

4. Cardamom

Cardamom, Spice, Spoon, Shell, White

Cardamom is native to Southwestern India but Guatemala is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of this spice, followed  by Tanzania and Malaysia. Cardamom is found in two main varieties: Black and green cardamom. Green cardamom, also known  as “true cardamom”, is mostly used in sweet dishes. It is also known to have medicinal benefits and can be used to treat gum and teeth infections, eyelid inflammation and a variety of other ailments. Black cardamom, has a more smokey taste and is used in savoury dishes such as biryanis and curries.

5. Cloves

Cloves are originally from Indonesia , but they are  also grown in India, Madagascar, Zanzibar and Sri Lanka.

Cloves  are  traded at 10$ per pound on the international market. They are known for their medicinal anti-oxidants, for their ability to reduce blood sugar levels and as a natural septic and analgesic. 

In Indian Ayurvedic medicine and in Chinese medicine they are used as a dental painkiller. The pungent aroma of cloves is used in so many cuisines including Indian, African and Middle Eastern dishes.

Cloves, Clove, Spice, Food, Natural

Curries, kebabs, hot beverages, and other sweet delights also  use this amazing spice!