While countries like India, Greece, Afghanistan, Spain and Morocco produce saffron, Iran takes the crown as the world’s largest producer of top-quality saffron, or “red gold”. Iran’s supremacy is such that it produces a staggering 90% of all the world’s saffron, reports Eater. What’s the secret? Well, it has a lot to do with Iran’s dry, sunny climate and rich history of growing the spice for thousands of years. Saffron plays a significant role in Persian culture and cuisine, and the quality of the country’s spices is arguably the best.
Iran exported 206 tons of red gold to 52 countries in 2021 (via Financial Tribune). Increasing demand for organic ingredients and consumer awareness are helping to increase Saffron sales and market growth. Additionally, this very expensive, antioxidant-packed spice has numerous potential health benefits, including cancer-fighting properties, preventing nervous system disorders, elevating mood, aiding weight loss, and reducing risk factors for heart disease (via Healthline).
If you want to cook an intensely flavored paella recipe, you will have to invest in expensive saffron, but it will be worth your money. However, you might consider Costco’s affordable saffron, which will turn heads or even be a substitute for saffron.