12 of the most insanely expensive foods on the planet

The world is filled with delicious things to eat. But there are some foods either so rare or which require such extremes to prepare that they cost more than you or I spend on food in a month – just for a taste. Here are some of the most insanely expensive foods in the world.

12. Almas Caviar

This super-rare Iranian roe is sold by the Caviar House & Prunier in London. It looks like tiny little pearls as compared to the inky black color of other caviars, and is sold by the kilo for $25,000 in tins made of 24-karat gold.

11. Japanese Densuke Watermelon

This watermelon is hard, sweep, crisp and oh yeah – 17 pounds and black-as-night. Only around 65 are harvested each year, and they go for around $3,000-$8,000.

10. Japanese Yubari Melon

Now, we’re gonna take it a step further. The Yubari King cantaloupe has an asking price of $5,000-$20,000 per 8-pound pair. They are valued for their size and flavor (and we bet they make a killer fruit salad, too).

9. Japanese Wagyu (Kobe) Beef

Though Wagyu beef cattle are raised both inside and out of Japan and fetch very different prices, the general idea is the same: cattle are raised in a no-stress environment. They are hand-fed, massaged with oils to soften and distribute subcutaneous fat, and even served beer to stimulate their appetite. American Kobe beef goes for around $50 per 12-ounce steak, but the Japanese original can go for around $1,000 for the same size.

8. Kopi Luwak (Coffee)

Coffee that costs up to a whopping $500/pound? This coffee is produced in small batches each year on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. Here’s how it works: a nocturnal animal called the Palm Civet swallows sweet coffee cherries (which enclose the beans) whole. The fruit is digested, but the undigested beans pass through. But before they pass, natural enzymes in the Palm Civet’s digestive system penetrate the beans, neutralize their bitter oils, and release 25 otherwise unattainable flavors, and a far smoother overall taste. The beans are then collected by foragers, cleaned and roasted. Now the price makes sense.

7. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota

If you haven’t tasted Iberico ham, you have never eaten ham before. Think prosciutto, but darker in color, sweeter, nuttier, more tender and oh so buttery. This “ham” is the cured leg of the pata negra pig which is raised free-range in the oak forests of western Spain. They dine on acorns, wild mushrooms, grass, and herbs, which yields meat that is fatty and flavorful. These acorn-rich forests create an ecosystem for delicious swine that can’t be found anywhere else, and at least 2 acres of it is needed for each pig. After the butchering process, they are air-cured for a minimum of 2 years to hone flavor. The result is nothing short of revelatory. A 15-lb. bone-in Iberico de Bellota leg of ham can easily sell for $1,600.

6. Matsutake Mushroom

This almost-extinct mushroom is beloved for its powerful, spicy flavor and aroma, and its meaty texture. It can be found in many parts of the world, but the most popular varietal is found on the forest floor under a bed of fallen leaves from the Japanese Red Pine. As you may imagine, finding it is quite difficult. The annual harvest in Japan is less than 1,000 tons, and this variety can cost up to $2,000 per kilogram.

5. White Alba Truffle

Available from September to December, these white truffles can only be found by trained pigs or dogs in the Piedmont region of Italy at the base of certain oak trees. These harvest spots are guarded as secrets and passed down from parents to children – and they’re only becoming rarer and harder to find. In 2007, a white truffle was sold for $333,000.

4. Swiflet Nests

The high-flying swiflet is a bird that builds small nests made from strands of their own saliva. The nests are used to make bird’s nest soup, which is a Chinese delicacy, and known for its bounty of beneficial nutrients. It can take up to two months for a male swiflet to construct a single nest, so only a handful are made each year, and only in the Spring. The best bird’s nests (we hear) are foraged from caves in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, a dangerous task that involves traversing rough terrain and climbing up ladders to extract the valuable ingredient. Swiflet nests cost around $1,000 per pound.

3. Saffron

Saffron’s complex flavor and vibrant red-yellow-orange colors are coveted worldwide. But it’s not the demand that drives prices sky-high, it’s the labor-intensive picking, cleaning, sorting, toasting and packaging of the delicate saffron threads. It can take around 400 hours to attain just one kilogram of dried saffron. And though most paella recipes only call for a fraction of a gram, if you’re looking to stock up, it can cost up to $2,700 per pound.

2. Shark Fin

Shark fin is another Chinese delicacy that is renowned for its health properties. In this case, it is known as an aphrodisiac. Not surprisingly, the practice of catching a shark, removing its fin and leaving it to die without a way to steer itself is not only controversial, it’s difficult. Shark fin can cost up to $500 per pound.

1. Swedish Moose Cheese

Three mooses (moose? meece?) named Gullan, Haelga and Juna live in Bjurholm, Sweden with their human caretakers. May thru September is milking season, and special care is taken to milk each moose without causing them stress, as this would dry their reserves out. They make three types of cheese: a feta-style, a blue cheese and a rind-style, all with a luxurious 12 percent fat and 12 percent protein. The price tag? $455 per pound.

Almas Caviar image: Luxury Door
Japanese Wagyu image: Arnold Gatilao, Flickr
White alba truffle image: Blue moon in her eyes, Flickr
Moose cheese image: Y2 Design