Do Spices Expire? Shelf Life and Herbs

Do Spices Expire? Shelf Life and Herbs? How long are spices good for? Does salt expire? Learn about spice shelf life.

Whether you are a less experienced home cook or a seasoned chef, you believably know that having a well-stocked spice cabinet is one of the secrets to leveling up the flavor of your dishes.

What you may not realize is that spices do not only add flavors to the dishes but can also help prevent spoilage and add a boost of color, even do health-promoting plant compounds to your dishes.

Various common spices and herbs, such as cloves, turmeric, sage, rosemary, and cinnamon, have shown potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Furthermore, initial evidence suggests that frequently eating foods with spices and herbs may lessen your risk of complications associated with heart and respiratory diseases.

If you have been gathering herbs and spices for a while, you may be questioning whether they expire and when they should be replaced.

This article tells you about the shelf life of common dried herbs and spices, including when they are ready to be tossed.

Shelf life of common spices and herbs

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines spices as “aromatic vegetable substances, in the whole, broken, powdered or ground form, whose notable function in food is seasoning rather than nutrition.”
 
In the culinary world, spices are seasonings made from dried roots, bark, or stem of plants, whereas herbs are dried or fresh leaves of plants.
 
When determining the shelf life of dried herbs and spices, considering their type, processing, and storage. For instance, dried spices tend to last longer than dried herbs, and the more whole or less processed seasoning is, the more extended its shelf life.
 
Dried herbs generally last 1–3 years. Examples include:
  • basil
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • bay leaves
  • dill
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • mint
  • marjoram
  • sage
 

Also Read: Spiced Onion Salad

 

Powdered or ground spices generally have a shelf life of 2–3 years. Examples include:
  • powdered ginger
  • garlic powder
  • ground cinnamon
  • chili powder
  • ground turmeric
  • ground allspice
  • ground cardamom
  • ground paprika
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • seasoning blends
 
Whole spices have the longest shelf life since less of their surface area is exposed to air, light, and moisture. This allows them to preserve their aromatic oils and flavor compounds longer than their ground or powdered counterparts.
 
If they are stored properly, whole spices can last up to 4 years. Examples include:
  • whole peppercorns
  • coriander
  • mustard seeds
  • fennel seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • cumin seeds
  • whole nutmeg
  • cloves
  • cinnamon sticks
  • whole dried chili peppers
  • lemongrass
 
Salt is the exception to the rule, as it can be used endlessly regardless of its size and shape without spoiling or losing flavor. Such said, if you are using a seasoned salt, any accessory seasonings can drop their potency over time.
 

How to check whether your spices have gone bad

Dried herbs and spices do not usually expire or “go bad” in the traditional sense.
 
When a spice is stated to have gone bad, it simply means that it has lost most of its flavor, color, and potency. Fortunately, consuming a spice that has gone bad does not make you sick.
 
Many store-bought spices mention best-by dates, which show the time frame over which they will retain the most potent flavor and quality. It is still usually safe to consume dried herbs and spices that are past their prime, although they won’t score nearly as much flavor as their fresh counterparts.
 
If you are doubtful how long you have owned your spices, you can tell whether they are ready for a refresh by examining their scent and flavor by crushing or rubbing a small amount of spices in the palm of your hand. If the scent is weak and the flavor is dull, it is probably a safe time to replace them.
 

How to store spices for maximum shelf life

Minimizing their exposure to air, heat, light, and moisture is the crucial key to maximizing the shelf life of your herbs and spices, which can help you reduce waste and save money on buying new stocks.
 
Although storing spices in clear containers beside your stove may be convenient but it is not a great way to shield their potency. Preferably, a cool, dry, and dark environment such as a pantry, drawer, or cupboard put away from the stove or oven is a great spot to house your spice collection.
 
You will also desire to ensure your spices are stored in tightly sealed, non-porous containers. Glass or ceramic containers are among the best options available, as they are easy to clean and do keeping air and moisture out.
 
Plastic containers are also a trendy choice, but they are not typically airtight and can absorb the colors and odors of different spices. This can make them hard to clean if you want to reuse them.
 
Stainless steel or tin containers are other available options, but since metal is heat conductive, it is even more crucial that they are stored away from heat sources like your stovetop.
 
Although refrigeration is not required, red spices like paprika and cayenne pepper will retain their color/ flavor longer if kept refrigerated. Likewise, storing seasonings that contain oil, such as sesame and poppy seeds, in the fridge can hinder them from becoming rancid.
 
Also, keep in mind that moisture can quickly degrade the flavor and texture of your spices, possibly causing them to cake or mold. If you notice mold in any of your spice containers, discard the product without a doubt or consume it wisely.
 
You can retain your spices dry by using a spoon to get them out of the container before adding them to steaming hot dishes rather than sprinkling them straight from their containers.
 

Conclusion

Herbs and spices play significant roles in flavoring and preserving food.
 
Dried herbs and spices have relatively long shelf lives which range from 1–4 years, although the exact length of time differs depending on the type of spice and how it is processed and stored.
 
Commonly, spices that are past their period are not dangerous to consume, but they will lose their aroma and taste potency over time.
 
Make sure to store your spices away from heat, light, air, and moisture to maximize their shelf life, reduce waste, and stretch your food budget further.
 
At Crypto Food, you will find more recipes that are healthy, nutritious, and tasty.

FAQ

Q1 Do spices actually go bad at their expiration date?

Ans Any kind of food go bad but spices usually have long life shelf especially the whole one not grounded, the ground spices lost the aroma and taste after some time.

Q2 How long do spices last after the expiration date?

Ans If they’re kept in a cool dry environment they’ll last for a couple of years beyond expiration date, they may lose some of their intensity over time though.

Q3 How long do herbs and spices last? Is there a shelf life?

Ans Whole spices and dried herbs, leaves and flowers will keep 1 – 2 years. Seeds will keep 2 – 3 years and whole roots (i.e. ginger root or galangal root) will keep 3 years. Ground spices and herb leaves keep 1 year.

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  1. Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

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