Like other perishable foods, spices and seasonings have an expiration date when they lose color, fragrance, and flavor. Even though there is not an exact consensus of how long seasonings can last, on average, spices that are properly preserved can be used for approximately two to four years.
There are several things that you can do to ensure that your seasonings remain tasty and as fresh as possible, for as long as possible. Here are several tips to help you.
Storing seasonings in an area of your kitchen that is away from moisture is important. While adding ingredients to foods can be greatly beneficial to the taste, adding moisture to ingredients will not be helpful. When seasonings are exposed to moisture or humidity, the flavor and the weight of the ingredient can be affected, and this can ultimately affect the lifespan/usability of it.
Consider storing your seasonings in areas that moisture and humidity will be at a minimum. This may include placing them in drawers or cabinets that are not close to your sink, dishwasher, or even your stove, due to moisture that is created when boiling water for cooking, for example.
In addition to keeping seasonings away from the stove due to possible moisture, you’ll want to ensure that they’re are kept away from intense heat and at a relatively constant temperature, at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
Sealing ingredients in tight containers will help prevent any moisture from affecting your seasonings. (It’s important to note that even storing spices in areas where there is relatively low humidity year-round, like Denver, Colorado, should still be factored in!)
Oxygen in the air can actually be harmful to the flavor of your seasonings due to a process called oxidation. Placing them in direct sunlight can also steal some of the flavor.
Sealing your ingredients and packaging them tightly to keep oxygen and sunlight away from them can help preserve flavor. Placing seasonings into areas that are dark, such as in a drawer, a cupboard, or a cabinet can be beneficial.
It is possible that freezing seasonings may help preserve their lifespan; however, there are problems with freezing, including moisture that can build up on the ingredients. (Always research what is the best storage technique and keep an eye on the expiration date.)
As a rule of thumb, if the ingredient looks good, is colorful, smells good, and has lots of flavor, you should be good to add it to your favorite dish!
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