How long should I keep dried spices?

Discussion in 'Food & Wine' started by Shadow, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. Shadow
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    Shadow BANNED

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    Interesting article...just thought I'd share...



    How long should I keep dried spices?

    Q: I’m gearing up for my first big spring cleaning session with my sights set on an area I’ve been avoiding: the spice cabinet. My teenage son has started to call me the “spice hoarder,” and my husband won’t even get near the cabinet. (I don’t blame him … the cabinet is a mess and even I have trouble navigating it.)The thing is, I’ve never known when it’s appropriate to throw spices away. I have never been clear on the shelf life, so I keep ‘em around. Have any clue as to when is a good time to chuck them?


    A. Growing up, I recall the spice cabinet (which also doubled as the frosting and sprinkle storage area) in my own home as, well, overwhelming. I’m pretty sure there were a couple bottles of something or other in there that were certified antiques, pre-dating the Carter administration. And that ground allspice? I think the sell-by date was 40 A.D.

    The shelf life of spices vary, and you never really need to worry about them going “bad” like other foods do. For example, a bottle of curry powder that’s been around a questionable amount of time probably won’t make you sick … it will just be less potent. Many folks abide by a “six-month rule” when it comes to discarding most spices. Seems a bit short to me. I certainly can’t afford to replace all of mine twice a year. The folks at McCormick offer “to toss or not to toss” guidelines that are more generous:

    How long should I keep dried spices? | MNN - Mother Nature Network
     
  2. Tank
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    Tank Gold Member

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    Till they taste bad.
     
  3. AllieBaba
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    If they don't smell fresh and they taste funky, throw them out.

    Curry is particularly subject to tasting like crap when it's past it's prime.

    Anything that is a mixutre of spices will go gross more quickly.

    Get rid of the oldest stuff that you use the least and just replace it when you need it. I'm terrible about throwing things out, but I do do this once in a while with my spices. I don't keep that many on hand; I buy it when I need it so I don't worry about it tasting weird. Then I'll keep it for a good long while, but if I run across it a year or two later and have never used it, out it goes.
     
  4. Zoom-boing
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    Zoom-boing Gold Member

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    Oh I just did mine about six weeks ago! Everything was jammed into one cabinet next to the stove. I'm short and I can't reach the top shelf very well so that was full of stuff I rarely used. I treated myself and bought a spinning spice rack from the grocery store. I looked at them at Target and the like but they were too expensive and cheaply made, imo. I happened to see one on sale at Giant (and it came with prefilled spices) so I bought it. That is now sitting in the corner near the stove. I did trade out the top rack (it's two levels, each level holds 8 bottles) for my McCormick glass bottles. I use it all the time. And moving the cooking spices to that rack freed up plenty of space for my baking spices in the cabinet. They're on a small lazy susan and now they aren't stacked on top of each other, falling all over the place when I need to get one. I can just spin it around and what I need is right there.

    I threw out a lot of old spices . . . stuff I just hadn't used in ages (if ever). I also lowered that top shelf so I could reach it better. Now's there's enough room so I can keep an extra jar of onion powder (or whatever) in the cabinet . . which in turn freed up pantry space. That I loaded with canned pumpkin because there seems to be another shortage, as I haven't seen any on the store shelves for several months.

    As for how long to keep them . . . I go longer than six months but if they lose much of their smell I toss them. They might put expiration dates on them now, not sure. Also certain spices like ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, chili powder, etc. I'll buy in a smaller jar because I don't use them as quickly. Onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and others I buy the bigger container as I use them nearly every day.
     
  5. AllieBaba
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    My sister has an amazing spice rack that pulls out from the wall and has shallow shelves (spices are only 1 deep but it's a good sized cupboard). I LOVE it.

    She also has heavy duty contractor lazy susans that were installed when the house was built; they are in a corner cupboard and AWESOME.

    And her kitchen aid is bolted onto it's own fold-down shelf. When she isn't using it, it moves down into its own cupboard.

    AND she has this incredible pantry with fold-out cupboards and doors that are made to store stuff.

    PLUS she has either granite or marble counter tops. I think they're granite in the kitchen, marble in the bathroom....

    It's just not fair!
     
  6. Shadow
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    Yeah...I cleaned out my kitchen cabnet of old spices and aged medicines too. I couldn't belive how much stuff I had in there that I forgot about, and never used...old frosting...lipton noodles...old spices etc.. I think I need to clean out cabnets more often, that and stop buying extra junk that I don't need.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  7. AllieBaba
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    I know, me too. I've gotten pretty good about keeping my cupboards pared down, out of necessity, I only have a few and they aren't big. Maybe a tinier house would motivate me to get rid of the crap in my bedroom.
     
  8. Shadow
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    Yep...the bedroom is another story. My kids think it is a storage locker for all the crap they no longer want in their room. I think I just need a garbage truck to pull up and haul everything off....problem solved. :)
     

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