Top 3 Methods Of Storing Spices and Seasonings
Do you have any spices in your kitchen that have lost their flavor? Chances are the spice is too old or was not stored in ideal conditions. Dried herbs and spices have special essential oils which hold the majority of the flavor and aroma. When stored incorrectly, these essential oils dry up quickly, resulting in loss of taste and smell.
You will discover (if you haven’t already) that most dried herbs and spices can be purchased in ground form or whole form. The whole form retains essential oils for a longer period of time and you can grind or crush them to release the flavor and aroma as needed. A coffee grinder or mortar and pestle are two ways to effectively grind up whole herbs and spices.
Purchasing already ground herbs and spices means a shorter shelf life as they do not retain the essential oils for aroma and flavor for very long. Therefore, after a few months, test the ground spices for freshness by sniffing the open container. If you cannot detect any aroma, it is time to throw it out and replace it.
Proper storage can extend the life of your dried herbs and spices. The best thing you can do is keep them in a cool, dark and dry place in an airtight container. Go for screw-top lids over flip-tops as their seals are better at retaining the essence of the seasonings. In addition, follow these spice and herb protocols for storage:
1. Store away from any heat sources. Do not store your dried herbs and spices near or above the stove or dishwasher or any other source that produces heat conditions. The light and heat causes the essential oils that create the flavor in herbs and spices to evaporate.
2. Store away from moisture, specifically condensation and humidity. Moisture will cause your dried herbs and spices to cake up and lose flavor quickly. For this reason, avoid storage in refrigerators. Be sure to use dry, clean utensils when measuring out herbs and spices from the containers.
3. There are a few exceptions when it comes to refrigerator storage of spices. Spices with rich, dark colors like that of paprika, chili powder, and red pepper could be refrigerated to retain the rich color. You just have to be careful about condensation when you remove the spice from the refrigerator to measure some out for a recipe.
The typical rule when it comes to purchased ground spices is retaining them for six months to a year. Test them for aroma before tossing after this time period as some do last up to two years. For whole spices that you would grind yourself, their shelf life is longer – usually two years or longer. When in doubt, grind it up and if it still retains its aroma, it’s still good.