When considering how to store dried spices you need to consider the types of spices that you would like to store and the space in your kitchen. While most spices do not require a lot of space, the location where the spices are stored will definitely have an effect on how long your spices stays fresh.
Spice Storage Tips
- Store in dark-tinted jars or tins to stay away from light if you keep your spices out on your counter top.
- If you have a counter top or wall mounted spice storage unit ensure the spices are not in all “clear” storage containers. Decorative, yes, but direct exposure will quicken the decline of the spice or herb. A perfect “compromise” is tins having only the lid being clear.
- Store far from direct light or high temperature that can quicken the deterioration of the spice.
- Buy in bulk for value but buy modest quantities. Bulk buying does not necessarily indicate large quantities. Almost all prepackaged products are charging a premium for the product packaging.
- Where relevant you can buy whole and grind the spices with your mortar and pestle or coffee bean grinder. Ground spices lose flavor much faster than when whole spices.
- When buying a spice that you don’t make use of regularly buy in bulk in very small quantities. Most stores sell packaged single-use spices.
Generally you need to store spices in a location that is far from heat. Although you usually see spice racks suspended above a stove in kitchen design and style magazines, this is not the ideal place to store spices. The racks may appear attractive but the flavor of the spices is usually compromised.
Heat that goes up from your oven or stove top will always cause any spice positioned in direct path of this heat to warm and cool on a regular basis. The exception to this is with spices like salt, or a combination that has a salt base.
What is the best way to store cooking spices?
Dried spices need to be kept as far as possible from the range or other source of extreme heat, yet convenient to the food preparation area. Heat will hasten flavor decline in dried spices, while the hot vapor from food preparation can cause dried spices, blends, and dried up vegetable powders to cake.
It’s also wise to keep your spice racks far from intense direct light, especially if your cooking spices are kept in clear glass. Paprika, parsley flakes, freeze-dried chives, and several other spices are light sensitive. While slight color fading is not so serious for flavor, if you want to use the spice as a garnish it’s absolutely undesirable. Significant color loss is also a sign of substantial flavor loss. Refrigeration will boost the lifespan of the light-sensitive spices.
Keeping it Organized
While it might seem a bit challenging at first, overhauling and assessing your spice collection doesn’t have to take the whole day. Simply follow these five easy steps:
1. Check expiration dates and do away with anything that:
- You don’t make use of regularly.
- Looks discolored.
- Looks like it’s caking.
- Smells weak.
- You’ve not open for more than a year.
2. Find and put together glass containers with lids that cover tightly.
3. Create labels and expiration date.
4. Assemble jars and fill up with spices.
5. Store in an easily accessible area of your kitchen, fridge or cabinet, away from heat, light and moisture.
It can feel a bit painful to throw spices away, especially when you are aware of how highly-priced they can be, and it can also be a bit scary to bring new flavors to your collection when you aren’t sure how to use them. However, a well-stocked kitchen strikes a balance between flavor and waste. Though adequate storage of spices helps to retain their freshness and flavor, it is important to recognize when the time is right to throw them out. The simple rule is once a year. If the spice starts to smell musky, or fails to give any scent, or changes color, it is time to get a new one.