It is always helpful to have a wide variety of herbs and spices in your kitchen. The right spice can make a huge difference in the flavor of your dishes. Any budget-minded household also recognizes that having a large assortment of herbs and spices can get expensive, so it is important to store your spices in such a way that you can keep them as fresh as possible.
Here are a few tips that will help keep your spices fresh and flavorful.
Store your spices in air tight containers.
Any size and shape will do. Some cooks like to use square containers so they can be placed in a drawer and read easily. Others like bottles or air tight Tupperware. You can use any organizing system, just make sure the container is air tight.
Store your spices away from direct light.
It might be attractive to have that cute spice rack on your counter but it is not ideal for your spices. The light and heat reduce the freshness of your spices faster than if stored in a cabinet, drawer or even the freezer.
Keep your spices away from heat.
It can be handy to have your favorite spices right next to your stove but you aren’t doing them any favors. The heat and moisture from your stove will degrade the flavor of these herbs and spices.
Store your spices inside a cabinet, pantry or drawer.
Keep your herbs and spices in a cool dark place away from light and heat. They will last significantly longer and you’ll save money by not having to re-stock as often.
Store ground spices in the freezer.
Ground spices will keep flavor longer if stored in your freezer.
Buy whole spices.
Whole spices will stay fresh longer than ground spices. Whole spices can stay fresh for up to 4 years.
Buy spices in bulk.
Buy cheap spices online (and by cheap spices I am referring to inexpensive in terms of value and not poor quality). Make sure you purchase from a reputable company. When you buy in bulk you will save money on your spices because you can buy only as much as you need. When you buy wholesale spices you will find they tend to be less expensive because there is less packaging involved. This allows you to replenish your spice collection often for significantly less than it would cost to do at the grocery store and you will always have fresh spices on hand.
The shelf life of herbs and spices definitely vary. Ground spices have more surface area exposed to the air and will lose their flavor more rapidly than whole herbs and spices. A good way to tell if your spices are no longer fresh is to visually look to see that they are not faded and that they still smell distinctly aromatic.
General storage guidelines
Ground Spices: 2-3 years
Whole Spices: 3-4 years
Herbs: 1-3 years
Seasoning Blends: 1-2 years
Spices do not go bad or spoil but as they age they do lose flavor. Using best methods for storing your spices will help keep them fresh longer.