While spices don't typically "go bad" like other food products, they get stale and lose their flavor and aroma over time. Spring is the perfect time to sort through your spice collection to freshen up and recycle older bottles for the year ahead.
Along with spring cleaning your spice cabinet, Savory Spice Shop has 6 pro-tips for making sure your spices stay full of flavor for as long as possible, while wasting less:
1. Keep Your Spices Cool
Don't store spices over or near a hot oven! Prolonged exposure to heat will lead spices to lose their flavor and potency.
2. Keep Your Spices in A Dark Place
When herbs or spices are exposed to sunlight or even lights in your kitchen, your seasonings will suffer. Light will cause the color and vibrancy of your spices to fade, turning your spices from vibrant and colorful to tan and dull.
3. Keep Your Spices Sealed
If spices and herbs are exposed to air for long periods of time, especially if the air is moving, their flavor will rapidly disappear. This is due to the essential oils (which give spices their flavor) drying out or dissipating. When it comes to containers, it is best to use a glass jar with a secure lid.
In most cases, keeping your seasonings in a sealed plastic bag works well. However if you notice that your spices are losing their color or if you start to smell them through the bag, it might be time to switch to a jar. If you believe that your spice container might not have been completely sealed and you’re afraid your spice has gone bad, take a smell and taste. Remember: If it doesn’t have a good smell and color, it won’t have a good flavor.
4. Buy Only What You'll Use
When you buy spices in smaller quantities, you can make sure the ingredients you’re using are as fresh as possible. A good practice to get in the habit of is to determine what spices you will use within a few months. As a general rule, ground spices will keep their best flavor profile for about 6-12 months, depending on the spice. Whole spices last roughly twice as long, so use them within 1 to 2 years. There’s nothing worse than purchasing herbs and spices that you think you’ll use, only to let them go unused and turn stale.
5. Use Whole Spices
Grinding your own spices is the key to ensuring the best flavor and to extend the life of your spices. The simplest grinding method is to use a mortar and pestle.
Mortars and pestles have been used since ancient times to pulverize and crush substances into a paste or powder, though it does require some elbow grease. A spice or coffee grinder can make the process easier. If you do use a coffee grinder, we advise you to dedicate different grinders to spices and coffee. Between spices, grind a few grains of rice to clean out remaining spice dust and residue.
If grinding your own spices isn’t for you, remember that Savory Spice Shop grinds their own spices in small batches weekly to ensure freshness… it’s the next best thing to grinding them yourself!
6. Recycle what you don’t need.
Savory Spice Shop offers their spices in glass jars and plastic packaging. If your goal is to reduce waste, purchase our glass jars and recycle them when it’s time to refresh your stock. Make sure your bottles are completely cleaned and separate the plastic lids from the bottles before recycling.