Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Seasonings are an integral part of cooking and flavoring food. Don’t miss these helpful tips for how to store and organize your spices and herbs!
How To Store Spices And Keep Spices Fresh
These days, in the United States, we may find flavorings such as vanilla bean or saffron expensive. But did you know there was a time when black pepper was once so valuable it was called “black gold”.
It was even used to pay for taxes, rent, and even ransoms (WOW!). And salt isn’t technically a spice (it’s a mineral), it also once carried monetary value. In fact, the word “salary” comes from the word “salt”- Online Etymology Dictionary.
While spices and dried herbs no longer carry the same monetary value, they sure do make it up in the flavorings of food. It seems like such a waste that we don’t put more care into their storage. The better the care the longer we can stretch their use. Saving money anyone we can is important.
Here are some tips for keeping your spices fresh and ready to use when you need them.
Just a quick note that dried herbs and spices don’t go “bad” there is no concern about getting sick because you used an “old” spice. However, spices and herbs do lose their potency over time especially if they aren’t stored properly.
Buy Spices in Small Amounts – Not Bulk
It seems like if you were to purchase your spices in bulk you would save money. That may be true with upfront costs. But, there is always a but –
Since you likely won’t finish them before they stop tasting their best, you’ll need to toss them and buy more, which means that you will ultimately be losing money. The expectation of this rule is knowing that you will use all those spices up in a year.
Don’t Store Spices Near Heat – Keep Them Cool
It may be convenient to store your spices right by the stove, but if you do they will lose their flavor and potency faster. Herbs and spices need to be stored in a cool, dry environment. Light and heat both will cause your spices to deteriorate.
According to the Canadian Spice Association; It is important to keep spices stored no higher than 68 F (20 C) and dry is no higher than 60% relative humidity. At 70 to 80 F, paprika will lose about 1% of its color every 10 days. At higher temperatures, losses are even more rapid.
Keep them Dry
Ground spices need to stay dry or they will lose their potency, and may even become caked and clumpy. Don’t pour your spices directly into a streaming pan, or the steam will get into your spices and introduce moisture to the container.
Added humidity will also give way to bacteria and mold growth.
Use Glass Containers with Airtight Lids
Ground spices and dried herbs will stay flavorful and potent for longer if we store them in airtight containers. Healthline states glass, ceramic, and plastic are popular choices for seasoning storage. However, glass and ceramic are more airtight and easier to clean than plastic.
Make sure that when you have finished using them that you put those lids back on tight!
Fresh Herbs Keep Better in the Fridge
There is a debate on whether or not dried herbs should be kept in the fridge. In your refrigerator, we find a high humidity percentage as well as light. Both can decrease the potency of dried spices.
Although putting spices in the fridge may not be a great choice, you should definitely keep your fresh herbs in there. Fresh thrive best and can last much longer if taken out of their packaging and placed in a glass cup with water.
Don’t Use a Wet Spoon to Measure
Don’t use a wet measuring spoon to measure your spices. Your measurements will be off. This will also introduce moisture into the spice container.
Spices and Herbs Don’t Last Forever
Dried herbs and spices, if stored properly, can last for years, but they don’t last forever. According to Healthline, seasonings don’t really “go bad.” They just lose some of their strength of flavor. As a rule of thumb, whole spices and herbs remain fresh for about two years and last longer than their ground counterparts.
Salt is the exception to the rule, as it can be used indefinitely regardless of its size and shape without spoiling or losing flavor. However, if you’re using seasoned salt, any accessory seasonings may lose their potency over time.
Check the Potency of Your Spices
You clean out your refrigerator regularly, so why not make a habit of cleaning out your spices too? You don’t want to be preparing dinner only to find that your spices don’t have much flavor left to them.
Checking the potency of your spices by seeing if the color has changed, or if the flavor or smell has lessened over time.
Store Them in the Freezer
If you find a great deal for buying spices in bulk go ahead and get them. Put some in an airtight container for regular use and freeze the rest. This will keep them fresh and potent for longer.
Use these tips to help keep your spices more flavorful and potent for longer, so you can have well-seasoned and delicious food all of the time.