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How To Keep Your Spices Fresh & When To Toss Them, From An Expert

Kitchen Shelf with Spices, Canned Goods, and Cooking Utensils
Image by Vera Lair / Stocksy
February 25, 2020
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No good dish is complete without the right spices. And from turmeric to cayenne, we love them for their added flavor and for their positive health effects. But just as important as the kinds of spices stocked up in your kitchen is how you store them. After all, proper storage can ensure a longer "shelf life," with spices retaining their bright flavors for longer.

So, to find out how to keep ours as fresh as possible, we spoke with author and spice expert Kanchan Koya, Ph.D., to find out what proper spice storage looks like.

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Airtight and out of the light.

As you can imagine, it's always best to go for airtight containers. This ensures all that flavorful goodness from the spice stays in, while undesirable stuff like bacteria and bugs stay out. Consider swapping containers if you buy a new spice and the container doesn't seem too sturdy.

It's also important to keep the containers out of direct heat and light, as some spices contain volatile compounds, which will help "protect those volatile compounds from interacting with environmental elements," thus preserving the potency of your spice.

If you're using spices in a dish that will be cooked, you can typically count on the cooking process to wipe out any bad stuff. Nevertheless, properly stored spices retain their scent and taste longer. (You'll know yours have gotten too old if you can't smell them anymore.)

How long will they keep?

Which brings us to our next point: how long spices last.

Koya says whole spices stay fresh for longer—even up to two years! To really get the most out of them, she recommends grinding your whole spices into small batches and using them for up to six months. She finds this makes them super vibrant and flavorful.

As far as ground spice goes, six months is a good rule of thumb when coupled with the aforementioned storage tips.

This 30-pack of airtight spice containers is a great place to start if you're feeling inspired to "Marie Kondo" your spice rack. Make sure you've got our top seven picks for healing spices or our favorite spices to help boost your energy.

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