Kashmiri saffron is the best in the world, selling for $1550 a pound. But as a result of "ongoing regional violence, droughts, and the still-unfolding effects of climate change on the land, Kashmiri saffron has slowly begun to disappear," writes Sharanya Deepak for Eater.
"The saffron flower has three parts," says Raqib Mushtaq Mir, a saffron merchant. "There's the flower petals — that goes in for medicine, then there's the yellow strands, which aren't much use. The red strands, right in the middle, are pure saffron, which is what we're looking for." A single flower produces just three red strands; one gram of saffron is made from around 350 strands. For a kilogram of the spice, more than 150,000 flowers are sifted and scanned, and the rarity of the red strand can lead to shortcuts from less scrupulous merchants. "Often, in the market," Mushtaq Mir says, "the yellow are colored with red and mixed into the bunch."
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