Spice Shelf Life: Does the flavor Disappear?

12/26/2014

An important aspect of cooking is finding the right spices that can transform a meal in minutes. That’s part of the reason so many different spices line the pantry shelves of families all over the world. However, did you ever wonder how long your spices stay fresh, or when you should stop using them?

Dried herbs and spices add a tremendous amount of flavor to cooking and are convenient ways to enhance the taste of any meal. While spices kept in airtight containers and cool, dry storage do not technically spoil, they will start to lose their strength and freshness over time.

Checking your spices for freshness
Before you use spices on your next meal, it may be time to walk through your spice cabinet and determine what can stay and what should be replaced. Using your senses is a good place to start when determining freshness.

Changes in color
Spices that are green will often change color or fade as they age. Similarly, spices that start out a bright red, such as paprika, usually turn brown over time. It’s important to note that spices that have been exposed to moisture can develop mold growth and should be thrown away immediately.

Smell
Your spices should retain a rich aromatic smell when rubbed between your fingers. If this technique produces a smell of the spice that is still full and rich, it still has some use left. If your spice releases no aroma, it could have lost some or all of its potency.

Proper storage
Spices and herbs should be stored in an airtight container away from liquids. If you store liquid spices and dry spices in the same area make sure that they are kept on separate shelves. This will help reduce the risk of exposing your dry spices to moisture. Never freeze spices as the condensation build up can be introduced to the containers each time it is removed from the freezer.

Buy quality
Quality products will last longer and keep their taste. With so many spice options to choose from, finding what complements your cooking can be a challenge. Try different brands until you find a spice or a blend that works well for you.