Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Storing herbs and spices

When was the last time you cleaned out your spice cabinet? If you’re like me, it’s been years. And while I use herbs and spices frequently for both cooking and magick, I’m sure I have a few random jars that have been hanging around too long. I’ll bet that jar of allspice I bought for a Jamaican beef patty recipe many years ago (and only used that one time) is still in there. It’s probably keeping company with the spice blends I purchased at a neighbor’s Taste of Home party because I felt like I needed to buy something.

So I consulted a few recipe books and cooking websites and found some info on the shelf life of herbs, as well as some storage tips. There were lots of varied opinions on shelf life — and I’m sure some herbs deteriorate faster than others — hence the broad date ranges I’ve given here. Most sources seem to agree, however, that the easiest way to check if herbs are still good is to do the ol’ sniff test. Simply rub a pinch of it between your fingers. If the aroma is weak and the color has faded, it’s time to chuck it out.

Shelf Life:
- Whole spices: 2 to 5 years
- Ground spices: 1 to 3 years
- Leafy dried herbs: 6 months to 2 years
- Extracts: 4 years 

Tips for storing dried spices and herbs:
- Keep them dry in tightly closed containers.  A screw-cap container is better than a flip-top container because it can be resealed more tightly. 
- Keep them away from heat. Do not store them near the dishwasher, toaster, or stove.
- Keep them in the dark, inside a cabinet and/or in opaque containers.
- Members of the red pepper family, like paprika and chili powder, stay longer in the fridge.
- When you purchase new spices, make note of the purchase date on the label so you can quickly see when it’s nearing the end of its shelf life.


  1. ♥ well looks like a clean out for me...I think all of my spices/herbs are out of date...My favourite fresh herb is corriander...♥

  2. thank you for this! very helpful! i use a lot of fresh herbs but i do use some dry and i think they are all good for another year...YEAH! : ) sending hugs and keep these wonderful posts coming! : )

  3. @Sacred Keep and The Cottage Market: thanks very much for stopping by!

  4. mmm... you have some good recipes... I just might try them.
    Sending a hello for Fishkill, New York.


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