Let’s talk about spices. How to store them, how long they last, and more.
Everyone has at least a few spices & herbs in your pantry. Some people, like me, have quite a collection. But what are some important things to know about spices? How long do they last? How do you store them? Let’s get started.
First of all, spices don’t necessarily go bad…but they go “blah.” The whole point of spices & herbs are that they give flavor and pizzazz to your dishes. If they aren’t stored properly or are too old, they lose their flavor and do nothing at all for your recipes. Spices that are whole last much longer than spices that have been ground. Whole spices can last up to 4 years, whereas ground spices only last 1-2 years at most. If you can, look for more whole spices.
Light, moisture, air and heat are the enemy of flavor when it comes to your spices. It is important to store your spices in airtight containers, away from your range where heat and moisture (steam) are most prevalent. I know it’s convenient to have them right by the stove, but they will last much longer in another part of your kitchen. I currently store mine on a spice rack that I built, under a cabinet in an area that never gets direct sunlight. It is on the opposite side of my kitchen from my stove. I also organize all my spices in alphabetical order to easily locate just what I want.
In the future, I plan to replace all of my spice jars with tins, that way all light is kept out as well. Most spice tins that I find, have clear tops. Depending on what I end up using, if they have clear tops, I’ll simply cover the lid with a label, identifying what is inside and blocking out light in the process. That said, the best deal I have found on tins is *right here.*
If you have whole spices, but your recipe calls specifically for ground, you can use a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle to prepare your spices. (Always clean after use so you don’t cross-flavor.) If a recipe calls for a half teaspoon of a ground spice, you’ll usually need to grind double of the whole – a whole teaspoon. Of course, always measure to confirm. For large spices like nutmeg or cinnamon, I use a micro-planer to grate them. This is the same one I used for zesting lemons or other citrus.
The Spice Rack
- Ask yourselves these:
Do you actually use the spice?
Did you buy it years ago for a single recipe and never used it since?
Did you forget when you even bought it?
Use the eye & nose test. Take a look at each container of spices. Have they lost their color?
Do they look pale?
Take a good sniff (carefully …we don’t want a sneeze-fest to happen). Are your spices still fragrant?
If the answer is “no” to any of the above, then it is time to purge or replace your spices.
2. Look at your storage. After reading the information above about light, heat, moisture and air – are there any improvements you can do? Are your spices in the best location they can be? Not for convenience, but for viability? Make any changes that you need to.
That is it for this week! Have any suggestions you could share? Share them below!