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Storing Spices and Herbs

Bay LeavesUse the following guidelines for storing your spices and herbs to maintain maximum quality. To prevent flavor and color loss, avoid moisture, light, heat and air.

  • Store in tightly covered containers.
  • Store in a dark place away from sunlight, such as inside a cupboard or drawer.
  • Avoid storage above the dishwasher, microwave, stove or refrigerator, or near a sink or heating vent.
  • If storing in an open spice rack, store in a site away from heat, light and moisture.
  • Avoid sprinkling dried spices and herbs directly from container into a steaming pot to prevent moisture from entering the container.
  • Use a dry spoon to measure spices and herbs from a container.
  • Keep these points in mind regarding refrigerator/ freezer storage:
  • Refrigerate paprika, chili powder and red pepper for best color retention, especially in summer or hotter climates.
  • Spices and herbs can get wet if condensation forms when a cold container from a refrigerator or freezer is left open in a humid kitchen.

Spice Jars

How Long To Keep Spices And Herbs

Here are some guidelines to help you determine when it's time to toss your spices and herbs .

  • As general rule, keep:
    - 1 year for herbs or ground spices .
    - 2 years for whole spices .
  • Buy a smaller container until you determine how fast you'll use a particular spice or herb.
  • If a spice or herb smells strong and flavorful, it's probably still potent.
    - Check an herb or a ground spice by rubbing a small amount in your hand. If the aroma is fresh, rich and immediate, it can still flavor foods.
    - Check a whole spice - such as a clove or cinnamon stick - by breaking, crushing or scraping it before smelling it.
    - Avoid smelling PEPPER or CHILI POWDER as they can irritate your nose.
  • Initial quality will influence shelf life.
  • Label date of purchase on container with a permanent marking pen.

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.