How long can spices be kept?
Carol from AZ
My Mom had a bottle of ground cloves which she used for her Pumpkin Pie. She passed away in 1989 and I still use those cloves in her recipe. Still have 1/4 bottle left. The aroma and color are fresh and spicy. Everyone raves about the pie!
If it's McCormick and made in Baltimore it is more than 15 years old. Throw it out!
I don't think any dried spices "go bad"; they just lose their flavor. Or, of course, get infested. If it's clean, and still smells like it should, go ahead and use it.
Herbs, now, are a little different story. Dried vegetable flakes get tough and leathery; dried leaves (dill, parsley, etc) lose their color and flavor. Again, though, I'm not aware of any health issues.
I have store bought dried herbs and spices (in prepackaged jars) that no longer are fragrant (to my nose) AND since using them for that one 'specific' recipe - so very long ago - I'm not sure when or if I'll use them ever again. So, how long to those store bought dried herbs and spices maintain freshness?
Hi Jean, I found this info off of the McCormick website. The shelf life really varies by product. Here's the site : http://www.mccormick.com/foodservice/content.cfm?id=10357
I found this at StillTasty.com. Look under "Tips". http://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/18123
You know, I had always thought that spices should be changed out every year at the least - but when I read your query I did some sleuthing and found this informative website.
They say the following:
"Stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place, spices retain their potency longer than you'd think as long as 4 years for whole spices, 2 to 3 years for ground spices, and 1 to 3 years for leafy herbs, depending on the herb."
Spices are to be kept in the dark like you have, in a cool place. But the rule of thumb is to replace them after one year. If you look at them by then they are pretty dried out and have lost a lot of there color, as well as there flavor. (04/18/2007)
As per the McCormick website:
To make sure all your dishes delight friends and family, use this chart to check the freshness of your spices and herbs.
Self Life -
ground spices - 2-3 years
whole spices - 3-4 years
seasoning blends - 1-2 years
herbs - 1-3 years
4 years, except pure vanilla, which lasts indefinitely
The Flavor Experts at McCormick Recommend the Following Tips:
Check to see that the color of your spices and herbs is vibrant. If the color has faded, chances are so has the flavor.
Rub or crush the spice or herb in your hand. If the aroma is weak and flavor is not apparent, it's time to replace it.
Store herbs and spices in a tightly capped container, and keep away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. Replace bottle lids tightly immediately after use.
To minimize moisture and caking, use a dry measuring spoon and avoid sprinkling directly into a steaming pot.
Check the freshness date on the bottom or right side of the bottle to help keep track of when it's time to T.O.S.S.