Spices add a lot of flavor to our dishes and blending them together to form a seasoning results in a great tasting meal. Preserving the quality, freshness, and flavor of spices and seasonings is important, so the next time you reach for them they are vibrantly tasteful and ready to spruce up your delicious meal.
Spices don’t exactly spoil with time however they do lose their color and flavor potency. If stored properly, ground spices can retain their wholesomeness for quite a long time and when purchased whole, they last even longer. Whole spices such as peppercorn, nutmeg, cloves, coriander and cumin, to name a few can last much longer because the volatile oils which are the essence to the flavor will not be exposed to air until ground or milled.
The secret to Storing your spices and seasoning blends is to keep them in an air-tight jar/container or bag in a cool, dry/dark place (less than 70° F.) and keep away from light to prevent their color from fading. A tightly closed container will lessen or diminish the effects of moisture and oxidation on your spices, and since spices are photosensitive, keeping them in a dark cupboard/pantry or drawer will preserve their vibrancy longer.
Do not mistake “Cool Dry place” with keeping your spices in the freezer. A freezer will NOT preserve your spices. On the contrary, the condensation that occurs from bringing the spice in and out of the freezer every time you use them will increase the moisture level in your spices and cause them to spoil and turn moldy.
Whole spices keep the longest because they have not been cracked or ground which would expose their volatile oils to the air, speeding up the breakdown of their flavor. Therefore, ground spices have a shorter shelf life than whole spices or seeds.
Although spices can keep for 2-3 years, we recommend the shelf life of spices not be longer than 1 year, especially if ground. From the moment Spices are harvested and dried, their integrity begins to slowly deteriorate. Color and flavor are also slowly degraded through time, until the point the spice no longer provides a benefit to the dish. If the spice color is either dull or muted and/or the smell is weak or completely missing, the spice should be discarded and replaced.
Imagine eating without flavor. How bland and uneventful would our food be without identity or personality. Tantalizing your taste buds by combining different spices and herbs can be fun. Get creative and adventurous with your cooking and turn your meal into an unforgettable experience.
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