Whether you are baking cookies for the school party or preparing a holiday feast for the family, you are bound to occasionally wonder if the spices in your drawer for ages are still potent. Here are a few tips to help you figure it out:
1. Proper storage is the key to extending the life of your herbs and spices
If they are stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool dry place, some spices can retain their flavor and effectiveness for years!
2. Shelf life
With proper storage, whole spices (cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, cumin to name a few) will last for four years or longer and ground spices will last for two + years. To make sure ground spices still have their flavor, shake the jar. If they still have their fragrance, they are still good.
3. Herbs are different
To test their potency, crumple some in your hand. If they still have their unique aroma, they are probably OK. If their potency is fading, you can always use extra in the recipe to use up your supply.
4. No heat or moisture
Keep them away from the heat of the stove – even when adding to your cooking. It is always better to add the spice from your hand or a small bowl. Also, moisture has the potential to spoil your spices too. Don’t store them in the freezer or near the dishwasher.
5. Buy small, date & label
If you don’t cook often, buy the small containers of herbs. You may have to replace them more frequently, but they won’t go bad. You should also write the date of purchase on the container. Then you will really know how long they have been sitting.
I recently found this Pull Down Spice Rack at The Container Store (by Rubbermaid) and love it for its efficiency and ease of use. Perfect when you have lots of spices but not a lot of cabinet space!
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Eat, drink and be merry this season!