Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spring Cleaning - Spices Edition

If you are anything like me, you may not remember the last time you bought a particular spice for a specific recipe. You just know that you have it hiding in your cupboard of spices somewhere. As I have become a more experienced cook, I have realized that changing out those lovely meal accents is a necessary assignment for good food.


Spices don’t keep forever. In fact, you may have heard of the 6-month rule, having you clean out your spices after 6 months. However, not all spices lose flavor in 6 months. Whole spices such as, mustard seed, can keep good for years.

So how do you know when to change them? Use your senses.


  1. Smell your spices. Take some and rub it in your fingers and smell.  If they have a faint scent or none at all, it is time to change them.
  2. Taste your spices. Do you find you need a larger amount of the spice to get the flavor? That is probably a good indicator that it is time to change them.
  3. Look at your spices. Have their colors faded? If the color has faded, the flavor probably has too.

Those are all good indicators that it is time to clean out those spices.

Want more life out of your spices? 


Buy more of them whole and grind them when you need to use them. They will last longer and the flavor will be stronger in your dish.

Pro-Tip: 


Store your spices in labeled jars in a cool and dry place. Measure out your spices into a small bowl instead of pouring your spices directly into a steaming pot. This will keep them fresh by lessening the amount of time the jars are open, and keeping your ground spices from lumping together from the steam of the stove.

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