Keep It Fresh

Spring is here! And with that comes the long list of things to clean, organize, and freshen up. This is the perfect time to declutter your pantry. Check the expiration dates, place open bags of flour and sugar in air tight containers and restock canned items such as tomatoes, black beans and salsas, which will be perfect for those upcoming summer picnics. One thing often overlooked when cleaning out your panty are your dried spices. How long do spices last? It depends on both the type of spice and the conditions under which they are stored. Unlike fresh herbs, dried herbs and spices don’t expire. But over time, spices will lose their potency and ability to flavor your food as intended. As a general rule, whole spices will stay fresh for about 4 years, ground spices for about 2 to 3 years and dried herbs for 1 to 3 years.

To test whether a spice or herb is still aromatic enough to be effective, rub or crush a small amount in your hand, then taste and smell it. If the aroma is weak and the flavor is not obvious, then it should be replaced.

To maximize the shelf life of spices store them in a cool, dark cupboard, away from direct heat or sunlight. Spices and herbs bought in bulk will better retain flavor and potency if stored in containers with tight-fitting lids. Since so many spices look similar, get some decorative labels for your jars. You don’t want to ruin your mom’s “award winning apple pie” by using salt in place of sugar….yuck!

While in the South Wedge be sure to visit Stuarts Spices located at 754 South Clinton Ave. Check out their website at for more information. Their all-natural herbs, spices, and custom seasonings are the perfect way to update the “spicy” part of your pantry!