How To Store Dry Herbs and Spices


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
 Dried Herbs And Spices
Whole herbs and spices may be stored for up to one year.  After that time they flavor will begin to greatly deteriorate.  The spices won't be harmful, just lack their natural pungency.
Ground herbs and spices should only be stored for 3 to 6 months.  If you are purchasing a spice you don't use very frequently then you may be money ahead to purchase in bulk in very small quantities.  Some stores sell packaged single-use spices.

Toasting Spices

Toasting herbs and spices before grinding enhances the flavor. You can do this in either the oven or in a flat sauté pan.  Toast the spice just until it becomes aromatic then remove it from the heat. Take care not to allow the spices to burn or they will become bitter.

It it best not to store excess toasted herbs or spices.  If you want store them then store the ingredients refrigerated, in a tightly sealed container, and try to use within a day or two.


Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.