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For many centuries the world's most expensive spice was black pepper. As cultivation increased and black pepper became a household staple around the world its price subsequently dropped. Today, black pepper is one of the world's most affordable spices.
Which brings us to the question: what are the world's most expensive spices? Here are the three most luxurious spices you can have in your kitchen:
Saffron is the world's most expensive spice. Its price ranges from 15,000 euro to 30,000 euros per kilo, depending on the quality.
Why is saffron so expensive? That's because harvesting saffron is very labor intensive: one kilo of saffron requires 250,000 purple crocus flowers and more than 600 hours of labor.
Not only that but each crocus flower provides just three stigmas (aka saffron strands) which must be picked by hand gently. The flower blossoms twice a year so the harvesting requires exact timing, precision, and a delicate touch
This golden spice of inimitable flavor is produced in Spain and Italy but the world's most renown variety comes from Iran.
The world's second most expensive spice is vanilla. While it originated in Mexico vanilla is famously cultivated in Madagascar and other islands in the Indian Ocean.
Of course, it's price doesn't compare to the outlandish cost of saffron but vanilla will set you back a few dollars. The price of this fragrant spice depends on where it was cultivated and how it is sold (extract, whole bean or seeds). For instance, vanilla extract can cost anywhere from $6 an ounce to $260 for a gallon.
While it is less expensive than saffron and vanilla, cardamom is by no means a cheap spice. Known as the Queen of Indian Spices, cardamom sells for 60 euro per kilogram, or about $30 a pound.
Cardamom is a tropical plant native to Southern India and also cultivated in Madagascar. There are two varieties: brown and green, with the latter possessing the delicate aroma reminiscent of perfume. Brown cardamom has an earthier flavor with a pleasant smokiness. Both are excellent for preparing chai tea but green cardamom is especially delicious in desserts.
Just like vanilla, cardamom has long been used by the cosmetic industry.