The most expensive ingredients in the World

14 05 2012

After my recent move into the new house some people have started to wonder whether I haven’t developed ideas above my station.

Well just to cast aside all doubt here is a quick round-up of some of the most expensive ingredients in the World…

Saffron – $1,000/lb

A classic contender for World’s most expensive ingredient. Saffron is the dried stigma of the cunningly named “Saffron Crocus” or Crocus sativus to give it’s proper name.

For anyone who is wondering why some dried pieces of a flower are so expensive have a look below at what wikipedia has to say…

“To glean an amount of dry saffron weighing 1 lb (450 g) is to harvest 50,000–75,000 flowers, the equivalent of an association football pitch‘s area of cultivation; 110,000–170,000 flowers or two football fields are needed to gross one kilogram. 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, or US$1,100–11,000/kg, equivalent to £2,500/€3,500 per pound or £5,500/€7,500 per kilogram. The price in Canada recently rose to CAD 18,000 per kilogram. In Western countries, the average retail price is $1,000/£500/€700 per pound, or US$2,200/£1,100/€1,550 per kilogram. A pound contains between 70,000 and 200,000 threads.”

White Truffles: $ 14,000/kg

Another long time heavy weight of the culinary World, white truffles have long been sought after by discerning gourmets for their earthy taste and pungent fragrance.

Native to the Piedmont region of Northern Italy although they can also be found in parts of Croatia. White truffles are the rarest and most costly of all the various species of truffle and as such carry the biggest price tag, the highest price ever paid for a single truffle was set in December 2007, when Macau casino owner Stanley Ho paid 330,000 USD (£165,000) for a specimen weighing 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb), discovered by Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco.

Bit different from paying 99 pence for a kilo of button mushrooms in Tesco!

Edible gold: $90-100/gram

Though gold has no nutritional value, 24k gold is perfectly edible and adds a luxurious and beautiful decoration to dishes and drinks.

Edible gold leaf is popular in cake decorating and for adding a bit of flair to certain cocktails. The metal apparently passes directly through the body unaltered, not sure I would want to try and retrieve it though!

 Ass (Donkey) Cheese $700/lb.

Home to 100 Balkan donkeys, the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve along the Zasavica River produces a smoked donkey’s milk cheese that they call “Pule.”

They justify the obscene price of the cheese by quoting the rarity and  value of the milk used…Not sure I would want ass milk either to be quite honest!

 

 Hop Shoots $1300/lb

Hop shoots are funnily enough the young shoots of the hop bine, yes bine not vine.

Hop shoots are only available between January and mid April. Because of the short period of availability, labour intensive cultivation and low yields hop shoots often rank as the most expensive vegetable in the World!

 

 

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Sloe Gin

21 10 2010

I love sloe gin.

That isn’t really a trendy statement for a 20 something man to say but I say two fingers to what is and isn’t trendy, sloe gin is great.

To me it looks and tastes like Christmas in a bottle, not that it can’t be enjoyed at other times of the year as well.

For those who don’t know the sloe is the fruit of the Blackthorn, a lovely spikey hedgerow tree that grows like a weed. Sloes are roughly marble sized bluey/purple berries that are at their very best in October/November ideally just after the first frost.

Seeing as Blackthorn is so prolific in hedgerows throughout the UK and Ireland you can very easily bag yourself several pounds of delicious, sweet and most importantly free berries whilst still leaving ample for birds and fellow humans.

To give an example at the beginning of October 2009 we picked 8 3/4 lb of sloes from the hedges and bushes at the side of the River Lea between Springfield Marina and Stonebridge Lock.

As well as being one of my favourite tipples; Sloe gin also makes a great Christmas present, especially in the present economic climate.

Here is how to make your own Sloe Gin:

Buy several litres of cheap gin, we are talking the sort of stuff that they sell as own brand in Tesco or Asda.

You could waste your money buying the very best gin possible but the sloes will be completely changing the flavour of it and you really don’t need to

You will also need to get your hands on some extra 1 litre spirits bottles or ideally a nice glass demijohn.

First things first wash your sloes and get rid of any stray leaves and twigs that might be caught up with them, not to mention any unwanted visitors such as bugs or flies.

In order to get the best results out of your sloes you need to release the juices that are locked inside them. You can do this a number of ways, you can prick them with a pin/fork, gently squish them between your fingers or pop them in the freezer until they split.

Once you have prepared your sloes you are ready to begin, empty the gin from one bottle to the other/the demijohn so that each bottle is only half full.

Fill each bottle with sloes until the gin has been displaced enough that it is nearly at the top of the bottle.

Using a funnel add approx 150g of white sugar to each bottle.

*If you are using a demijohn then adjust the amount of sugar accordingly, for example if there are 2 litres of gin in the demijohn you will need 4 times the amount of sugar(600g)*

Once all of the bottles are filled and ready pop the caps on them and tip them upside down, be very careful if you are trying to do this with a demijohn.

Each bottle will need to be upended in this fashion once a day for the first week, after this point you will need to upend each bottle once a week for the next two months.

After two months your sloe gin will be ready to drink, I would advise though that you leave your sloe gin for longer. The gin that I will be drinking this year was made last year, the difference that the extra ten months or so makes is very noticeable.








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