Gift Guide: The World’s Most Expensive Spice

December 17, 2016


The snow is ferocious today; I’m looking out at a black and white world. Not a footprint -even the animals have gone into hiding.

All I want are sunny foods: lemon tarts, deviled eggs, a soothing bowl of avgolemono soup.  But mostly what I want is something made with saffron.  I’m about to cook up a classic risotto milanese, one of my favorite foods on earth; tonight I’ll fry the leftovers into crisp little arancini.

I can think of few kitchen thrills more appealing than using just a little more saffron than the recipe calls for, punching up the flavor and intensifying the color.

I love the elusive, slightly nutty taste of saffron. I love the glorious golden hue.  And I would love anyone who sent me a saffron present.

Persian red saffron threads are considered the best in the world. You can find saffron in any spice store, and all over the web.  I buy mine from a company called Vanilla Saffron Imports, which imports directly from Iran and packages beautifully.

At $80 an ounce, this is a truly luxe gift.  On the other hand, saffron lasts a long time, and your friend will think of you every time she reaches for the canister.


Categorised in:


  • Mark. says:

    I’ve bought from that company repeatedly and their saffron is consistently great. Like it or not, Iran produces over 90% of the world’s saffron and probably almost all of the best.

  • Karen Hudson says:

    This sounds wonderful, Ruth. I do have to mention that we routinely buy saffron at Trader Joe’s, very reasonably price and of reasonably good quality. Vanilla ice cream with saffron and pecans is a great dinner party favorite at our house.

  • Karen Hudson says:

    Oh, sorry—meant to write pistachios, not pecans, although now that I think of it, pecans might be delicious also.
    Happy Holidays to you, Ruth. I enjoy your books and all your writings tremendously.

  • Charles Fuqua says:

    What a great idea for a Christmas gift! We much enjoyed all the saffron we brought back from Iran and just a little bit makes such a difference in so many recipes.
    Thank you so much for suggesting it.