How To - Use & Store Spices

Spices and Herbs 

Spices and herbs will lose their colour, taste and aroma over time. To preserve peak flavour and colour, store spices and herbs in a cool, dry place, away from exposure to bright light, heat, moisture or oxygen. If possible, avoid storing spices and herbs too close to the stove, oven, dishwasher or refrigerator, where rising steam or heat can come into contact with them. Dampness can cause caking or clumping of ground spices

Store herbs and spices in airtight containers, such as glass jars, plastic containers or tins, to protect against moisture and preserve oils that give spices their flavour and aroma.

Red-coloured spices, such as chilli powder, cayenne pepper and paprika can be refrigerated to prevent loss of colour and flavour. The best storage temperature for herbs and spices is one that is fairly constant and below 20°C (70°F). Temperature fluctuations can cause condensation, and eventually mould, so if you store spices in the freezer or refrigerator, return them promptly after use.

The shelf life of each herb and spice is different, and all age, even under the best conditions. Check your herbs and spices, and those you consider purchasing, to see that they look fresh, not faded, and are distinctly aromatic. The shelf life of herbs and spices will vary according to the form and plant part, too. Those that have been cut or powdered have more surface area exposed to the air and so lose their flavour more rapidly than whole herbs and spices.

Here are some guidelines
Whole Spices and Herbs
Leaves and flowers 1 year
Seeds and barks over 2 years
Roots over 2 years
Ground Spices and Herbs
Leaves 6 months
Seeds and barks 6 months
Roots 1 year

Whole spices can be ground in a small coffee grinder, small food processor, pepper grinder, or mortar and pestle. To clean coffee grinder after use, add small amount of sugar or uncooked rice and process.

Toasting or Dry Roasting

This process can accentuate the taste and aroma of spices such as cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. To toast, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add spice(s); toast 2 to 5 minutes or until spices are fragrant and lightly browned, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Remove from heat.

Category: Condiments

Sub-Category: Spices & Herbs