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How to Store and Keep Spices Fresh Longer

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March 12, 2024

The key to a great recipe collection is a full spice catalog. From black pepper to dried basil, cardamon to cloves, and everything in between, spices can make a dish extraordinary. But, spices can be expensive, especially if you only need a pinch or so for a specific recipe. If you want to keep your bulk spices and seasonings fresh for longer, check out these preservation tips.

What is the Shelf Life of Spices?

Dried spices are a great investment for home cooks and chefs. Spices don’t perish like fresh herbs and won’t succumb to mold or mildew when stored properly. However, their flavor potency can diminish over time. Of course, the goal of having spices in your pantry is to use them in a variety of vinaigrettes, marinades, and recipes. However, keeping their integrity as long as possible before replacing your supply is important to keep your dishes consistent.

Generally, dried herbs and spices can last 1 to 4 years. The ultimate shelf life expectancy, however, can vary based on the type of spice and its storage conditions. It’s also important to remember that a freshly dried spice will have more flavor than the same spice after a year or two, as the taste fades gradually. 

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Longevity of Whole Spice vs. Ground

If you want the most bang for your grocery buck, whole spices will remain fresh longer than ground. Why? Oxidation is a major culprit behind the loss of flavor. Oxygen evaporates the essential oils in the spices, which is where the aromas come from. Whole spices have less surface area than ground, which means less of the spice comes into contact with oxygen, preserving its flavor longer.

A great example of this is black pepper. Taking whole peppercorns and grinding them fresh releases its aroma and intense peppery taste. That same depth of flavor and smell isn’t necessarily the same as pre-ground ingredients. This isn’t to say that one is inherently better than the other. Both have their applications. Plus, not every spice is available whole, like dried herbs and seasoning blends.

3 Ways to Preserve Spices and Keep Them Fresh Longer

No matter if you are storing whole or ground spices, both are susceptible to light, temperature, and humidity, which affect flavor. Here are three ways to protect your spices from the elements.

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1. Consider the Container

There is some debate about what type of container improves spices’ longevity. Some experts recommend glass because it doesn’t have an absorbent layer like plastic, which can prevent less air from leaking into the container. Transferring bulk spices into smaller glass mason jars can offer air-tight storage options. But, any air-tight container will help keep your herbs and spices fresh for longer. The vessel you choose to use should depend on your storage space and overall spice consumption.

2. Pick the Perfect Storage Space

Speaking of storage space, seasonings and spices love a cool, dry, and dark environment to prevent moisture build-up and exposure to light. Choose a  pantry or cabinet away from direct sunlight and ovens that can cause temperature fluxations.

3. Consider the Freezer

Extend the life of ground and whole spices by preserving them in the freezer. This is an especially savvy tactic to keep bulk amounts of spices flavorful for longer. Divide your spices and blends into smaller portions to only pull what you need. Resealable freezer bags and professional storage containers are key to providing air-tight and moisture-free freezer options. 

NOTE: Never keep your spices in the refrigerator, as the humidity levels can cause moisture build-up.

US Foods CHEF’STORE: Your Bulk Spice and Food Supply Store

Storing and preserving spices is the key to elevating your culinary experience. By implementing these simple yet effective techniques, you not only extend the shelf life of your spices but also enhance the flavors of your dishes. Remember, a well-organized spice cabinet not only adds vibrancy to your kitchen but also ensures that each meal is infused with the richness and depth of perfectly preserved spices. 

At CHEF’STORE, you’ll find culinary-grade spices, seasoning blends, and storage equipment to make all of your recipes sing. 

Check out our extensive products at any of our convenient locations near you.

The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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