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Last Updated on May 14, 2018 by Diane Hoffmaster
For the last few weeks, my dehydrator has been running non-stop as I dry the herbs I have growing in my backyard. My latest batch of Italian seasoning spice smells delicious! Growing herbs is incredibly easy and helps save you a ton of money. Those little bottled herbs and spices cost a fortune! Using fresh herbs and spices in your recipes help you boost flavor and cut down on salt usage. Of course, you want your herbs to stay flavorful as long as possible, right? Well, here are a few spice storage tips to extend the life of the herbs you grow (or buy!) so they stay as flavorful as possible.
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Herb and Spice Storage Tips
The number one key to maintaining the freshness of your herbs and spices is to start with the best product you can. I prefer to either grow it myself or buy quality, brand name spices from stores that I know have a high turnover rate. Check the dates on your bottled store bought spices before you purchase them. Snip your own herbs first thing in the morning and dehydrate them right away before storing them for long term use. Growing fresh herbs is relatively easy. Here are a few other spice storage tips that might help.
Store spices in airtight containers:
The best spice storage containers are air tight. That means you need to store your spices in containers with a snap lock or screw top container. Spice storage containers that have an easy to pour or sprinkle top will make your life much easier. However, the ones with a wide mouth and screw off lid make going into them with a measuring spoon easier. It is really a bit of personal preference.
Location is everything:
Where you store your spices is sort of determined by your kitchen design, however cool and dark places are best. Never store your spices over the stove or on the counter next to the window. You can mount a spice rack inside of a door or place an insert in a drawer. Just make sure they are easily accessible when you cook or you will never grab them.
Use them regularly:
Nothing lasts forever and spices have a shelf life. Whole spices like peppercorns or whole nutmeg can last 4 years. Ground spices have a shorter shelf life but can last for 2-3 years. Herbs (which really are different from spices) last anywhere from 1-3 years, depending on the herb. Check out the Mother Nature Network for the differences between herbs and spices. How do you tell if your herbs and spices are weak? Crush them between your fingers. If the smell is faint, it's time to get new spices.
Take Care when Using:
You don't want the heat and humidity from a boiling soup to enter your spice container. Instead of sprinkling your spices directly into your cooking food, spoon it out with a measuring spoon and leave the actual spice container on the counter.
Think outside the box for storage ideas:
Sometimes, you need to get creative when it comes to spice storage. While these spice storage tips will work for many kitchens, they may not be perfect for yours personally. When I made some lemon and thyme herbed sea salt, I had too much to put in spice jars and stored it in small mason jars instead. Or, maybe you want your spices to be a focal point and conversation starter in your kitchen. Putting them on display in beautiful containers may add to your kitchen's decor. Here are a few outside the box spice storage ideas to consider.
- Mason Jars: Large mason jars are great for herbs in bulk or whole spices that take up a lot of room. Smaller volumes of ground spices can be stored in smaller mason jars.
- Spices in the drawer: If you have an extra drawer in your kitchen, consider a spice drawer insert. This keeps them away from light but right at your fingertips.
- Masala Dabba (Indian Spice Box): An Indian Spice Box is a beautiful way to store spices that you use regularly.
- Wall-Mounted Magnetic Spice Rack: Magnetic spice racks are quite trendy nowadays and go great in a modern kitchen.
- Hanging Spice Racks: Wall mounted spice racks are a great solution for people with small kitchens.
Herbs and spices make our foods much more flavorful but old spices will definitely not make your recipe really wow your taste buds. These spice storage tips will help make sure you are using the most flavorful herbs and spices possible for your next meal!
Have any other spice storage tips to share?
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Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.