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Freshness of Spices

Cooking tips for the caring cook.


Freshness of Spices

  • Generally, whole spices stay fresh up to two years, ground spices about six months. Ground spices really should be replaced every 6 months or so. Your cooking will benefit from fresh spices.
  • When fresh, most spices have a bright, rich color and strong aroma when you open the container. If either the color or aroma of any of your spices seems weak, whether a ground spice or fresh spice, discard the spice and purchase a new bottle.
  • Storing Ground and Whole Spices: Ground spices should be stored for up to six months if they are sealed tightly and located in a cool shelf or pantry. Whole spices can be stored up to two years in the same conditions, although some spice experts say only one - use your best judgment.

The shelf life of specific spices:

  • Ground spices such as salt or cinnamon can be kept for up to 3 years.
  • Whole spices such as whole cloves can be kept up to 4 years.
  • Seasoning blends can be kept up to 2 years.
  • Herbs such as rosemary or thyme can be kept up to 3 years.
  • Extracts such as vanilla extract or almond extract can be kept up to 4 years. Pure vanilla can be kept indefinitely.

Helpful Hint

Use a pepper mill to grind cloves and other spices.

Spice Rubs

Fresh Herbs and Spices

Spice rubs are a wonderful way to infuse flavor into meats without adding fat. Simply cover the trimmed meat with the mix and then grill, broil or roast.

Combine the following ingredients together for a spice "rub" with Middle-Eastern flair that can be added to beef, pork, lamb or chicken (makes 2 tablespoons).

2 teaspoons ground, black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon (each) ground coriander and salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Nutmeg spice

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