Saffron could be described as the prima donna of the spice cabinet. For starters, it’s the most expensive spice (by weight) in the world. In addition, it requires special treatment to fully extract its unique flowery, pungent, almost bitter character and deep orange color that make it indispensable in bouillabaisse, paella, and a host of other traditional dishes.
Saffron’s high cost is due to the fact that the threads are the actual stigma of a particular crocus flower and must be harvested by hand. Fortunately, a little bit of saffron goes a long way. In fact, too much saffron can ruin a dish with an overpowering, medicinal taste. So in practice, saffron actually costs not much more than most seasonings.