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dried herbs and spices

How To Store Dry Herbs and Spices

Here are a few general tips for storing dried herbs and spices.

Article by: Barbara Bowman


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Storage Tips

  • Store in dark-tinted jars or tins to avoid light if you keep your spices out on your counter top.
  • If you have a wall mounted or counter top spice storage unit make sure the spices are not in all "clear" containers. Decorative, yes, but exposure will hasten the decline of the spice or herb. A good "compromise" is tins with only the lid being clear.
  • Store away from direct light or heat sources which will hasten the deterioration of the spice or herb.
  • Buy in bulk for value but buy small quantities. Whole Foods Markets and Penzeys are very good sources for bulk herbs and spices. Bulk does not necessarily mean large quantities. Most prepackaged products are charging a premium for the packaging.
  • Buy whole and grind your own with your mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Ground spices and herbs lose flavor more quickly than when whole.
  • Pepper looses it's punch rather quickly. It is best to keep a "utilitarian" grinder close to your cooking center and a decorative grinder for the table. If you prefer having ground pepper by your cook top then grind it in small amounts and keep store in a small tin or jar.

Dried Spices & Herbs; How Long to Store

Whole herbs and spices can be stored for up to one year and ground spices for 3 to 6 months.
Obviously spices and herbs can be stored for longer but the quality will deteriorate.
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Toasting herbs and spices before grinding enhances the flavor. You can do this in either the oven or in a flat sauté pan. Take care not to allow the spices to burn.