Do Spices Have A Shelf Life?
Let's get this fact straight. I am not a cook. Sure, I can microwave as well as anyone else, and I can heat things up in a toaster oven, maybe boil water and cook spaghetti and grill simple foods on my pellet grill, but that's it.
At home, my wife is the chef, and she can cook and create recipes that are amazing. She loves to invent new things, and I get to be the guinea pig, trying out these new recipes.
Spices of course play a big role in meal preparation, and we have a kitchen cabinet full of many different types of spices. I have no idea what role they play in food preparation. When we bring home spices from our camper at the end of camping season, it's hard to open the cabinet door without some of the spice bottles falling out from the overflowing shelves.
My wife and I were just talking about thinning out our spice cabinet not only to make some room but to see what spices actually need to be thrown out. Some of those spices have been in our kitchen cabinet for a long time.
McCormick, the king of spices says "It’s better to think of spices as going “not good” rather than bad." So, yes some spices can have a shelf life. McCormick describes it as the "length of time they are most aromatic and delicious for cooking."
According to the McCormick website, two spices are pretty much good indefinitely - salt and vanilla extract. Whole spices are good for 3 to 4 years, ground spices are good for 2 to 4 years, and ground and whole leafy herbs for 1 to 3 years.
If your food is a bit on the bland side, maybe it's time to check your spices for replacement, but McCormick listed some ways you can bring old spices back to a little life rather than throwing them out, including making a spice potpourri or frying those old spices in hot oil just before cooking them.
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