Always store spices in a cool, dry, dark place. The rule of thumb for how long spices stay fresh is: 3 to 4 years for whole spices and seeds, 2 to 3 years for ground spices, 1 to 3 years for leafy herbs, and 1 to 2 years for seasoning blends. If there is no expiration date on your spice container then date it with a sharpie pen on the bottom of the bottle as soon as you purchase it. If the spice is close to expiration and the color, smell (when crushed between your fingers), and/or taste has faded you can always try to revive it by heating it in a dry pan on the stove.
If you're in a pinch and the spice is old but still has a bit of vigor left, just use more than the recipe calls for but do taste testing as you go so you don't overdo it. If worse comes to worse and the spice is not salvageable for cooking, don't just throw it out! Depending on the spice, you can always use it for crafts or mix it with fresh potpourri to add bulk to the potpourri or mix it in with mulch for the garden. I am sure you can come up with other recycling ideas too.
By Deeli from Richland, WA
Store your spices in a cool, dry space to keep them fresh. If they are too near to the stove they will lose their flavor more quickly.
I store spices on a small rotating plastic device that fits in my upper cabinet . By placing them sideways you can store more and even stack them. No more hunting through piles of cans to find one particular spice.
I have started marking a date that I purchased the spice on the label.
Another way to bring out the flavor of spices is to saute them in oil. Heat the oil and put your spices in as it starts to sizzle.
But please don't do the stupid thing I did! The spices will very quickly become aromatic and you'll really be able to smell them get stronger, so don't do what I did which was to deeply inhale the spices at a close range! I got a sore throat, coughing and choking, crying from the smoke in my face and eyes. But the good new is that I only did it once!! I learned my lesson but good!
Heating the herbs in oil really brings out the essential oils in the herbs and they're much more flavorful, but be careful and watch them closely because they can burn very, very quickly. But you get so much more out of the spices. Like toasting nuts; the flavor is brought out so much and they taste so much better than using plain, untoasted nuts.
Hi Metroplex :-) That's a really good idea to bring out extra flavor of spices using oil! But I'd be careful because for some recipes it could end up being an overwhelming flavor and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to do with ground spices.
And thanks, ThriftyFun, for adding to not store spices beside an oven as an enhancement to my tip for storing them in a cool, dry, dark place! Cabinets next to an oven do get warmer than the rest do and many of us wouldn't think of that!
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