6 common mistakes when storing herbs and spices

Have you ever opened your pantry in search of your favorite herbs and spices, just to discover they had lost their lovely color and mouthwatering flavor?

If so, it’s probably because you made one of these 6 most common mistakes when storing herbs and spices!

Find the long-lost taste of your last journey or the exact scent of your favorite childhood dish, by learning how to correctly store your favorite ingredients!

Colorful herbs and spices in bucketsWhy bother with the correct storage of herbs and spices?

  • To preserve their organoleptic properties (smell, taste, color, texture).
  • To prevent the formation of molds or bacteria.
  • To make them last longer.

Let’s see how to do that!

These are 6 common mistakes you have surely made once in your life:

1. Keeping your herbs and spices in plastic containers

Plastic is common, cheap, easy to use and wash and it’s the material spices packets are mainly made of, when you go shopping in ethnic markets.

If you buy bulk spices and herbs, you should remove them from their plastic bags as soon as you get home, to store them in a proper jar.

The best materials are glass and ceramic, because they don’t chemically react with the etheric oils contained in spices and herbs. This means it won’t alter their flavors. Moreover, they are often airtight jars, making the scent last longer.

2. Exposing herbs and spices to direct light

Yes, spice jars look gorgeous on your kitchen console, because they are multi-color and decorative.

HOWEVER, keep in mind that light is an enemy to flavors and scents, since it favors a chemical process called oxidation.

For this reason, it’s also forbidden to place your spices on the window sill!

Your airtight spice jars should always be kept inside a cabinet or a drawer.


3. Exposing herbs and spices to heat

Storing your spice jars on a shelf above your stove or oven is a practical solution, allowing you to always have your favorite ingredients at hand. Unfortunately, it’s not the best place for the quality of your ingredients.

Spices and herbs suffer from temperature fluctuations that alter their organoleptic properties!

Dishwashers also emit heat, so that you shall keep your spice jars far from this appliance too.

The ideal temperature required by spices and herbs is around 20°C. Even hot ones (containing a substance named “capsicum” like paprika, red pepper and so on), should not exceed 27°C.


Tip: Seeds (like sesame, poppy ecc.) should be kept in the fridge, to prevent rancidity and pests.


4. Exposing herbs and spices to humidity

Your kitchen is a typical warm and wet environment, so that you shall always store your airtight jars in an enclosed area (like a cabinet or a drawer) to prevent the proliferation of molds and bacteria.

Have you ever found big lumps in your spices?

Or maybe had the entire ground contents of your jars become solid and impossible to use?

That’s another effect of humidity!Turmeric plant with leaves, rhizomes and roots

Keep in mind that rhizomes (ex: ginger or turmeric roots) can produce new shoots thanks to humidity, so they should be kept in a dark and dry place at ambient temperature.


5. Not writing the date of purchase on a label

It is commonly thought that spices and herbs are almost “eternal”, but that’s false.

Spices and herbs have no absolute expiration dates, like cheese or yogurt – and you won’t feel sick if you swallow old pepper or cinnamon – but you won’t find any flavor or color either!

“Old” spices could even alter (for the worst) other ingredients’ taste and therefore ruin your dish. The average duration of ground spices is between 6 and 12 months. To keep track of this it is important to write down their purchase date, in order to know when it’s time for another shopping tour. If you buy bottles, the best before date may be printed on the jar, so this tip is particularly meant for times when you buy spices in bulk, or in packets and then transfer then to jars.

If you have many leftovers, don’t throw them away: you can always recycle old spices and herbs in several creative ways! For example, you can add rosemary to your laundry detergent to perfume your clothes, or you can use colored spices, such as chili or curry, to create original watercolors.


Fresh and ground turmeric6. Choosing ground spices instead of whole ones

Ground spices rapidly lose their scents, while whole ones (grains, sticks or rhizomes) last longer and you can just grind the desired quantity on the spot and store the rest following the above-mentioned good practices.

Share this list of 6 common mistakes when storing herbs and spices with your friends and help your fellow spice lovers take the best from these special ingredients!



Do you need a new set of spice jars and rack?

To avoid these problems, make sure you’ve got the right equipment for the job.

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid, read our reviews on spice racks to find one that suits your needs.


If you have any other questions about storing your spices and herbs, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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