Spices and herbs contain aromatic substances called "essential oils",
which are responsible for the aroma and much of the flavor. Most spices
and herbs are available in ground and whole form.
Whole herbs and spices last much longer than crushed or ground. Many
people prefer to buy the whole form and crush or grind as needed. Herbs
and spices can be crushed with a mortar and pestle, or a coffee
grinder. Check ground spices for freshness at least once a year. If no
aroma is detected, the seasoning needs to be replaced.
Spices and herbs should be kept in
tightly closed containers in a cool, dry, dark place. A screw-cap
container is better than a flip-top container because it can be tightly
1. Keep them away from heat. Do not
store near dishwasher or refrigerator, and they should never be stored
near the range, even though it may seem more convenient. Heat, air, and
light cause aromatic oils to evaporate, which causes spices and herbs to
lose their flavor.
2. Store away from moisture as dampness will cause caking and loss of
quality. Store in tightly covered jars and use clean, dry spoons for
measuring. If you live in a high humidity area you may experience
difficulty with caking.
3. Store in cool place away from light. Do not store in a window or in
sunlight. Spice racks are nice, but not the best way to store your
4. Refrigerate cayenne pepper, chili
powder, and paprika to retain color longer.
Shelf Life: Whole spices----2 to 5 years
Ground spices---6 months to 2 years
Leafy herbs-------3 months to 2 years
Dehydrated vegetables---6 months
Make a note of the date of purchase on the
label; then check them once a year and replace as needed.