Spices play a huge role in your everyday meals, even if you’re not a foodie. Be it regularly used salt or more specialized herbs like oregano or cinnamon, they are the life of every dish. They are useful and important for everyone: be it professional chefs or people preparing meals for their families. However, it is very easy to lose track of your spices’ freshness and validity, as many people think these products never go bad.
Pointers for Storage
Before getting to the tips, first, it’s important to know how spices should be stored properly. The best way, often detailed on the packaging, is to keep them in ‘a cool and dry place.’ This ensures that they avoid direct light and moisture to stay fresh for longer. While using, too, the lids of the containers should be tightly closed to avoid any air from getting in. Also, it’s just good sense to keep in mind that everything in your kitchen has a shelf life, specific for each.
Experts claim that if stored properly, whole seeds like peppercorns and fennel seeds are good to use for three to four years, while ground powders like paprika, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon can be used for two to four years. Ground and whole leafy herbs like oregano, sage, seasoning blends, and thyme reach their expiration dates between one to three years of use. The miscellaneous staples of every kitchen, like salt and vanilla extracts, among others, can be used indefinitely while other extracts and essences, like almond or lemon varieties, can fade when used for two to three years. While some spices can be revived through roasting in oil, general consensus among experts claims that this should only be done when no other option is available.
Checking Your Spices
Your seasonings don’t have a drastic change in appearance when they go bad, but undergo minute changes you need to be aware of. Fresh flavorings have a crisp and vibrant color which fades away when they go bad. This is the easiest and the most direct way to inspect the spices in your kitchen. Another way is to see the texture. While fresh spices are fine powders, spoilt or expired seasonings might show clumps that form due to the loss of essential oils. Spices have a distinct and alluring smell that might fade away through time. If your spices have maintained their strong smell, they are still in their prime. If not, you should toss them out.