Do you have a spice rack in your pantry? If you’re like most of us, you will have at least a few spice jars that have been sitting there unused for years. Remember that exotic mix you picked up when you last travelled overseas? Or the packet of dried herbs from that gift hamper five Christmases ago?
Spices can lose their freshness and flavour if not stored properly. While whole spices last longer than ground up ones, stored properly even ground spices will not lose their flavour for years.
Why do spices go off?
There are three main reasons why spices go off over time – moisture, oxygen and light.
Exposure to light causes pigments in the spices to break down especially in case of turmeric, coriander and red chilli powder. Storing them in dark coloured containers helps avoid this.
Oxygen and moisture in the air react with the natural oils in the spices causing them to lose their flavour. Keep them in their original airtight packaging to avoid undue exposure.
Best way to store spices
If you buy your spices in bulk, it is best to decant a small amount for regular use and store the rest in a cool dark place until needed. Store your spices in the fridge in a dark, air-tight container to keep them fresh for longer.
Fortunately consuming stale spices isn’t harmful, only pointless. After all, life is too short to eat boring, flavourless food!