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5 Most Expensive Spices in the World

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We cannot imagine food recipes without the use of spices. Spices have been an inevitable part in the lives of human for centuries and they are always looked for their benefits. Today, some spices are more expensive than others for some reasons like limited cultivation, nature etc. Here is a list of the most expensive spices in the world.

1. Saffron: Originated from a flower called Crocus Sativus native to Central Asia, this is the most expensive spice in the world with its price ranging from $500 to $5000 per pound. The reason for it being the costliest spice is that it requires a lot of labor to carefully pick the stigmas by hand and afterwards leave them to dry. One cannot imagine that to collect a pound of saffron, it will require somewhere between 70,000 to 80,000 flowers and approximately 20 hours of labor. Just one strand of saffron is enough to give a dish its beautiful essence and a tinge of yellow color! Nature has its differing possessions and thus it is an advantage considering the huge price paid and the labor associated with it. Best quality saffron originates from India, France and Iran. It is also cultivated in other countries of the world like Greece and Italy.

The health benefits of saffron are many. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, can treat depressive symptoms, have cancer fighting properties, have appetite reducing properties and many more. Besides health and cooking properties, it is also used in cosmetics, as a staining dye, etc.


2. Vanilla: The favorite of many of us in sweet dishes, Vanilla, which means ‘Little Pod’ describes how a small quantity of it works as a powerful spice. Many companies attempt to copy this spice’s flavor but seldom do get close to the real vanilla essence and taste. It is the second most expensive spice in the world with prices ranging from $50 to $200 per pound. The reason for it being so expensive is that Vanilla flowers need to be hand-pollinated, are harvested before they ripe, by hands as well. After that it is treated with water vapor and stored in an air tight container for 4 weeks to ferment. Fermented vanilla pods can reach up to a length of 30 cm and then they are traded. Best quality vanilla comes from Madagascar, which is the largest producer of vanilla itself, and also from Mexico.

Some of the benefits of vanilla are: Highly rich in antioxidants, is good for heart, have anti-inflammatory properties, promotes hair health, etc.


3. Mahlab: It is a rare spice found in the seed kernel of St. Lucie cherries. The regions native to these cherry trees is the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and Middle East. A pound of Mahlab costs approximately $68. It is known for its versatile taste with a combination of cherries, floral and almonds. From Greece to Iraq, Mahlab is used for baking pastries or bread. Its floral taste is used to enhance dairy induced recipes, as for example rice pudding. Its expensive nature is because of the time consuming process in its production, from breaking the tough cherry pits to drying before trading in the market. The world’s main producer of Mahlab is currently Iran with some other countries like Turkey and Syria also producing it.

The health benefits of this spice include treating tumors, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases etc.


4. Long Pepper: In ancient times, long pepper was used by Greeks and Romans. But with the arrival of chili pepper, it was no longer used or used only in some countries of the world like India, Pakistan and Nepal. In these countries it is commonly known as pippali. The taste of this spice is similar to black pepper with added hints of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. It is the fourth most expensive spice in the world with per pound costing approximately $45. Countries producing long pepper are Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Nepal.

Besides cooking, long peppers are used to treat lung problems, stomach-related problems, headache, increasing appetite etc.


5. Black Cumin Seed: It is produced from flower Nigella Sativa native to Iran, Egypt and North India. It has a wide range of tastes with flavors of oregano, onion, thyme and black pepper. It is mostly used in Indian and Middle Eastern foods. One pound of black cumin seeds cost $38 which makes it the fifth most expensive spice in the world.

Black cumin seeds are used to treat inflammations on the skin because of the presence of a chemical called thymoquinone in it. It also prevents the development of cancer cells. The oil extracted from black cumin seed is used to treat many diseases and have been used by Asian and Middle Eastern healers for a long time.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Ankita B (author) on September 07, 2020:

Thank you Charlene for your lovely comments. I appreciate your comments and your visit.

Charlene Gallant from Cape Town, South Africa on September 07, 2020:

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Shoo didnt know most of these.Know and love saffron...use it for my breyani. Great read!

Ankita B (author) on July 09, 2020:

Yes you should definitely try it some day. Thank you for your kind comments Lorelei.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on July 09, 2020:

I have got to try saffron. I hear so much about it yet have never tasted it. It is on my to-do list.

Ankita B (author) on July 05, 2020:

Thank you Beanie for your kind comment. Much appreciated.

Beanie Lei on July 05, 2020:

Learnt about two new spices here today! Thank you for this informative article, Ankita.

Ankita B (author) on June 30, 2020:

Thank you Manuela. Glad you liked reading this article.

Manuela from Portugal on June 30, 2020:

I love spices and I use it a lot. Very Nice article.

Ankita B (author) on June 27, 2020:

Thank you so much Shreya.

Shreya MK on June 27, 2020:

Great article:)

Thanks for sharing

Ankita B (author) on June 27, 2020:

Thank you JC. I am glad you found this article interesting.

Ankita B (author) on June 27, 2020:

Thank you Sp Greaney for your lovely comment. Very appreciated.

Ankita B (author) on June 27, 2020:

Thank you Patricia for coming to read this article. Much appreciated.

JC Scull on June 27, 2020:

Very interesting hub.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on June 27, 2020:

Amazing to think that the dishes that then contain these spices will be expensive too. Very interesting article.

Patricia Pixie from Mexico City on June 27, 2020:

Woah! Thanks a lot for sharing. Now I know why is paella (an spanish dish) usually quite expensive. That saffron can get actually really expensive

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