Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's week #4 in October....and our focus item is... Spices!

 (Image courtesy of

What would cooking be like without spices?  I had a family member whose family lived off from their Food Storage for over a year.  What did she say she missed the most?  Spices! 

One question that I get often is "What is the shelf life of........?".  Just as with other items that we store, spices do not last for eternity.  The following information is from the McCormick's website:

  • Ground spices 2-3 years
  • Whole spices 4 years
  • Herbs 1-3 years   
  • Seeds  (except poppy seeds and sesame seeds which last for 2 years) 4 years
  • Seasoning Blends 1-2 years
  • Extracts (except vanilla extract which lasts indefinitely) 4 years
One other wonderful thing about this site is that you can check your own McCormick spices to see how old they may be by going to this link.

Storage Containers:  Now, how do you store your spices long term?  Here is some information from this site (

Canning Jars

Another excellent container to use for storing larger amounts of herbs are pint size and quart size glass canning jars. Used canning jars can sometimes be found at local thrift stores. New seals and rings for the canning jars can be found at many grocery stores.
Metal Tins

Small metal tins may also be used to store herbs and spices. Make sure to label the tins as the contents can't be seen once the lids are closed. Metal tins can impart a metallic scent or taste to dried herb leaves, but they work okay for storing seeds and roots.
Ceramic Containers

Glazed ceramic containers can also be used for storing herbs and spices. Unglazed ceramic containers will cause the volatile essential oils present in the herbs to evaporate in a very short time.

Plastic Containers

The use of plastic containers is not recommended for the long term storage of dried materials as the herbs seem to absorb some of the odor of the plastic making them rather unpleasant to use. Plastic containers or resealable plastic bags can be used for the short term storage of fresh herbs in the refrigerator or freezer.

Wood Containers

Wood containers are not recommended for the storage of your herbs and spices. Wood is a permeable container and since it is not airtight it will quickly cause the materials to dry out and become stale. Wood containers also have a tendency to absorb the odor of any aromatic substances that are placed within them.

Stock up! 

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