Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour. – William Cowper (1785)
I love cooking with spices which is a bit of a surprise since I grew up eating up very typical English-Australian food. That is, plain tasting and sometimes all the flavour boiled out, meat and 3 vegetables several times a week. My Dad would occasionally cook an Aussie- English style curry. Clive of India curry powder and sultanas! What was with the sultanas? As you might guess, not a favourite with any of us kids! Then I grew up, left home and got to travel to Indonesia, Philippines and spent 9 months living in India. Even though a lot of the food I tried was too spicy, I loved the variety of ingredients, spices and ultimately FLAVOR! Since those years I have been practicing with using spices and fresh herbs in my own cooking. Now I can’t imagine not cooking regularly with a variety of herbs, whole and ground spices!
But how do you store spices so that they keep all that FLAVOR? Read on to find out how…
How To Store Spices
# Do Spices Go Bad?
Spices don’t go off but they do lose their colour and flavour over time. Really, that defeats the point of using them I reckon! Whole spices will last a lot longer than ground spices.
# How Long Do Spices Last?
Once opened, whole spices will last for two years while ground spices should be used within six to nine months of opening for maximum flavour.
# How Do You Tell If Your Spices Are Still Good To Use?
Fresh spices will have an aroma that you notice when you open the lid. If you have put your nose into the jar to smell anything, you know it is past its prime.
I have been known to shove a jar of newly opened spice (not chilli of course!) under my kids noses and get them to appreciate the aroma. It can be really strong!
# What Is The Best Way To Store Spices?
When thinking about how you store spices and herbs, consider ease of use as well as what will prolong their shelf life.
- Use air tight containers to store each spice or dried herb.
- Close the lids immediately after using.
- Make sure no moisture gets into the containers by using a dry spoon at all times.
- Keep them away from any heat source.
- Avoid strong, direct light. Some dried herbs especially, are extremely light sensitive and will lose their flavour quickly.
Spices and herbs can be refrigerated or frozen but as they last well without doing so, it’s not necessary.
# A Spice Rack or Spice Drawer?
Spice Storage In A Kitchen Drawer
I have been keeping my spices in containers in a kitchen drawer for many years now. I have found that it is the easiest way for me to access the spices I need and put back them again quickly.
Related Post: Organize Spices In A Spice Drawer
Up until recently I stored the ground and whole spices in an assortment of recycled condiment jars. Thanks Vegemite and baby food jars! However my DIY spice jars had become really disorganized, and grotty! Check out this post to see how I upgraded my spice storage using 500mL sized glass jars from Kmart. Now that I am using the same size containers for every herb and spice, I can fit a lot more spices in the drawer.
The advantage of a spice drawer to store spices is that it keeps the spices away from heat and light. It can also be a way of storing large quantities of spice.
Spice Storage In A Spice Rack
Related Post: 16 Gorgeous Spice Rack Ideas
Put together some pretty spice jars, colorful spices and a beautiful spice rack, and you have an organized spice storage area in your kitchen. Spice racks are versatile and can be a great option in small spaces. Mount it to the wall, the back of the pantry door or even underneath an overhead cabinet.
Or what about a test tube spice rack?
Whether you go through large quantities of spices, or just a bit now and then, there is a spice rack option for you.
Spice Storage 101
Keep the flavor in your spices with airtight spice jars, and stored away from heat and light. Then organize your spices in a drawer or spice rack depending on your kitchen space and the amount of spices you want to store.
What are your favorite spices to store?
Click here for more kitchen organization ideas: