India! The country with amazing diversity and wonders has many champions. All these are real facts and real records. Most of them are certified by authentic record books like Guiness Book of Records & Limca Book of Records. I am trying to tabulate as many as I can. Please help me in my efforts by adding more facts and records.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
WORLD'S COSTLIEST SPICE
Saffron, the world's most expensive spice by weight, has a history spanning millennia. Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. A C. sativus flower bears three stigmas, each the distal end of a carpel. Together with their styles—stalks connecting stigmas to their host plant—stigmas are dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent.
The plant is sterile, incapable of producing seed, and must be propagated vegetatively year after year in order to be sustained. The flowers, which grow only a few centimetres above the ground, must be picked on blossoming and without damaging the leaves; the red stigmas are removed from the flowers and when dried constitute the spice of commerce. Among other places, it is native to Kashmir valley of India.
A pound of dry saffron requires 50,000–75,000 flowers, the equivalent of a football field's area of cultivation (110,000-170,000 flowers or two football fields for a kilogram).Some forty hours of labour are needed to pick 150,000 flowers. Stigmas are dried quickly upon extraction and (preferably) sealed in airtight containers. Saffron prices at wholesale and retail rates range from US$500 to US$5,000 per pound (US$1,100–11,000/kg)—equivalent to £250/€350 per pound or £5,500/€7,500 per kilogram. In Western countries, the average retail price is $1,000/£500/€700 per pound (US$2,200/£1,100/€1,550 per kilogram). A pound comprises between 70,000 and 200,000 threads. Vivid crimson colouring, slight moistness, elasticity, and lack of broken-off thread debris are all traits of fresh saffron.
Another is the Kashmiri "Mongra" or "Lacha" saffron (Crocus sativus 'Cashmirianus'), which is among the most difficult for consumers to obtain. Repeated droughts, blights, and crop failures in Kashmir, combined with an Indian export ban, contribute to its high prices.
Kashmiri saffron is recognisable by its extremely dark maroon-purple hue, among the world's darkest, hence the costliest, which suggests the saffron's strong flavour, aroma, and colourative effect.
Thus, high-grade Kashmiri saffron is often sold mixed with cheaper Iranian imports; these mixes are then marketed as pure Kashmiri saffron, a development that has cost Kashmiri growers much of their income.