Attention to anyone who loves guilty pleasures, the best of class, a lifestyle punctuated with the occasional top shelf luxuries and lusciousness of knowing you have the best.
Here are 4 spices that are the Lamborghini’s, Dom Perignon, Prada, and 5 karat diamonds of the spice shelf; in other words, the world’s 4 most luxurious spices.
The best news? Even those of us with beer budgets can afford them…in small enough quantities.
This list was created purely out of assessing the most expensive spices available. Expense is directly linked to either scarcity or complexity to harvest. Don’t let the expensive taste of these spices scare you. A little goes a very long way…especially if you purchase it in whole form to maintain the flavor longer.
1. Saffron. Made from the dried, deeply colored, reddish-orange filaments from the saffron crocus flower (Crocus sativus). It takes up to 75,000 of these hand-picked filaments to produce one pound of saffron. Moreover, the filaments must be harvested must be between dawn and 10am, since the stigmas lose colour and aroma if left too long in the plant.
Price tag: Saffron can cost up to $2,000/lb. Fortunately, you can purchase it 1/2 or 1 gram increments from $7-$14.
2. Vanilla. Ah yes, the very fickle vanilla that inspires a passionate following. Why does it cost so much? The flowers are finicky. They have to be hand fertilized. They have to be picked at very specific times. And all that doesn’t matter a bit if you have the wrong terroir for your vanilla plantation. Vanilla extract is equally complex. If you want to avoid the vanilla villains and know exactly what’s in your extract, make your own…it’s easy.
Price tag: 4 oz. of single pure vanilla extract costs about $8.50 and $1.89 per bean.
3. Cardamom. Following the same trend as vanilla and saffron, cardamom is difficult to grow and must be hand picked. Each pod contains 10-15 small, dark, sticky seeds. You can purchase cardamom in the whole pod form (my preferred way), as whole seeds or powdered. If you’ve never used cardamom and need it for one specific recipe don’t be tempted to skip it. Buy your cardamom and go here for 20 other uses for cardamom.
Price tag: Cardamom prices vary depending on the form. For example, 4 oz. of whole green pods costs $12.99. Ground up, 4 0z. costs $23.99. If you want the just the seeds in whole form expect to pay about $11-$12 for the same 4 oz. These quotes all came from The Spice House.
4. Cinnamon. Let’s be clear. There is cinnamon and there is true cinnamon. Most of what we purchase off the grocery shelf is Chinese cinnamon, also known as cassia. It’s good. It has the warm spice we all love. True cinnamon is a different breed all together. It’s called Ceylon cinnamon and is lighter, sweeter and the bark is more papery.
Price tag: In quill form 4 oz. of Ceylon cinnamon runs about $5.75-$6.00. The same amount of cassia costs about $3.
These spices, in small quantities, make an excellent gift kit for a luxury lover. Nothing screams good taste louder than presenting one of the world’s most luxurious spices. Am I right? I’m sure a food lover or a holiday party hostess would be equally pleased to receive one of these goodies.