Cleaning Out Your Spice Cabinet

When was the last time you cleaned out your spice cabinet? For many people, that’s an area that is over looked in their kitchen when it comes to cleaning time. Think about the following four things as you go through your spice rack:

  1. No one should eat something that is ten years old – check the expiration date!
  2. Spices should have a scent. No scent, no flavor!
  3. Green herbs should not be beige.
  4. Expired spices may not need to be replaced. You obviously weren’t using them.

When it comes to the expiration date, what’s reasonable? McCormick shares these guidelines for how long spices can be expected to last.

  • Seasoning blends: 1-2 years
  • Herbs: 1-3 years
  • Ground spices: 2-3 years
  • Whole spices (such as cinnamon sticks and peppercorns): 3-4 years
  • Extracts: 4 years (except for pure vanilla, which lasts indefinitely)

Ground spices quickly lose flavor, which is why whole peppercorns last longer than ground pepper. To keep your spices fresh longer, store them away from heat, light, and moisture. That will help to preserve flavor and color, and prevent clumping.

From a safety perspective spices should be fine, but when it comes to flavoring your food, you may not be very happy with the results.

Spices do not actually spoil. But when it comes to quality, the story is different. Over time, spices will lose their potency and not flavor your food as intended.

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