Have you ever wondered how long your spices remain fresh? Six months? A year? Two years? More? Herbs and ground spices are generally good for six months to a year while whole spices may still be good for up to two years. Each spice is different and the flavor components will all dissipate at different rates. The best test: just give it a sniff. If it smells strong and spicy, then use it; if not, then it might be time to replace it.
When it comes to preserving your spices there are certain rules to follow to ensure that they remain fresh: heat, light, moisture, and air will all speed up the loss of flavor and color. Here are some basic guidelines:
- Glass/barrier plastic containers are very good
- DO NOT store spices near a heat source
- examples of where NOT to store include the top of: the stove, the dishwasher, the refrigerator, or the microwave; near the sink or a heating vent
- Avoid the light (store in a cupboard or drawer, if you use a spice rack on a counter-top, keep out of direct sunlight)
- Store in a cool environment (refrigerator/freezer) when possible
- Exception: vanilla beans and extract