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It's Time to Clean Out Your Spice Rack

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  • Tip Bones

It happens to the best of us: you buy a specific spice jar for one recipe, and forget it in your cabinet for about a decade. From under cobwebs and enough dust that you seriously considered hiring an excavator, you unearth the jar. 'Spices are expensive,' you think to yourself, 'and I don't like being wasteful. Is this still good? Is it OK to use?' Having just rediscovered a spice collection that would make a 17th century royal send a trade fleet, I'm here to answer that very question.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. Almost no spices last longer than 2-4 years, especially if they're ground. Whole spices can remain potent enough to use longer than ground or crushed ones, but I've never had a jar of whole spices last longer than 5 years. It's not so much a food safety concern as it is one of potency: if you put a small amount in your hand and rub it between your fingers, if the smell isn't strong, the spice or herb is no good. The whole point of adding herbs, spices, and seasonings to food is to give it a new flavor and smell, so why would you want to use old, worn out ones, anyway? The exception, of course, is salt, which is OK to use basically indefinitely. 

Make sure that your spice rack is stored somewhere cool, dry, and dark. That way, your jars will get to live out their life to the fullest, even if you only use that coriander one time.

Photo: Pixabay