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If you enjoy cooking, you probably know how important spices are. With just a hint of this or that, food can taste completely different. There are a lot of spices with distinct flavours, and most of them are expensive. That being said, did you know that there is a spice that is more costly than gold?

Given that little goes a long way in the kitchen, you've likely used this spice before. A pound of saffron, which comes from purple saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) flowers, can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. Its high value is a result of the time and labour required to harvest it. The plant grows in a few Mediterranean countries, as well as Iran and India, but it only blooms for a few weeks each year. Since the three stigmas in the centre of each flower contain the actual spice, each flower must be carefully chosen and handled with great care. 

An estimated 40 hours of labour are required to pick one hundred fifty thousand flowers. The stigmas are then dried over charcoal fires, although this process can also take a long time. But when it is eventually grown, it has a striking reddish-yellow hue and a deep, earthy scent. It takes about 75,000 flowers to make one pound of saffron. Thankfully, tasty dishes usually only require a small amount of this expensive spice. 

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