Have you checked your spice cabinet lately? If any of your spices look the one above, they are from the 1940′s and could be in a museum. If your cabinet looks like mine did before my last move, you probably have spices in there in the back that are over 10 or 15 years old. Before you get sad about throwing out old spices, think about this: old spices won’t even spice up your food….why would you want to sprinkle your yummy recipe with dried up, unflavorful 10-year-old herbs and spices?
Spices only last about 1 to 4 years. McCormick guidelines for shelf life are:
Ground spices: 2-3 years
Whole spices: 3-4 years
Seasoning blends: 1-2 years
Herbs: 1-3 years
Extracts: 4 years
(more after the jump)
Checking the Age of McCormick Spices 1 of 9To check the age of McCormick spices, you can plug code from the bottom of the bottle into the decoder on the McCormick website.
Checking the Age of Other Spice Brands 2 of 9
The Enemies 3 of 9Store spices in a cool, dry and dark cabinet. Heat and light are a spice's worst enemy. Heat will dull the flavor and light will fade the color.
Refrigerator Storage 4 of 9Red spices can be stored in the refrigerator along with soup bases. This will preserve the flavor longer. They key is remembering that you PUT them in the refrigerator!
Ground vs. Whole Spices 5 of 9Ground spices release their flavor more quickly than whole spices and can be added at the end of cooking. Whole spices need more time to release their flavor and are normally added at the beginning of a recipe. Photo from McCormick.
Doubling a Recipe 6 of 9When doubling a recipe, don't double the spices. Only add 1.5 times the amount recommended and add more if necessary once you have had a chance to taste your dish. Photo from McCormick.
Release Whole Spice Flavor 7 of 9Use a small coffee grinder to grind up whole spices to allow them to release their flavor more quickly. You can crush herb leaves in your hand or use a mortar and pestle. Photo from McCormick.
Toast in a Pan 8 of 9You can toast some spices like fennel seed, sesame seed and white peppercorns to make them more flavorful. Photo from McCormick.
Check Color and Smell 9 of 9You can do an easy fresh test on your spices just by examining the color and smell. If the color looks dull and faded or the aroma of the spice is hardly there it's probably time to throw them out.
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