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How To Store Spices

Today we are going to talk about how to store your favorite seasonings to keep them fresh and flavorful for as long as possible.

Spices can really make or break a dish, and knowing how to store them properly is a crucial kitchen skill. Let’s explore how!

Top view of spice jars with spices spilled out in front of each jar on concrete counter.

For optimal freshness, store spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark, dry place away from heat and moisture. Ground spices maintain their flavor for up to a year, while whole spices can last up to three. Regularly check for potency via smell, color, and taste.

What are the best ways to store spices?

Storing spices might seem simple – just toss them in the pantry, right? Actually, it’s a little more complex than that. Here are some tried and true methods to keep your spices as fresh as the day you bought them:

  1. Keep them in airtight containers: Air can cause spices to lose their flavor over time, so it’s best to store them in containers that are airtight. Glass jars with tight-fitting lids are an excellent choice.
  2. Avoid heat and light: Storing spices near the stove or under bright lights can lead to quicker spoilage. Instead, choose a cool, dark place for storage.
  3. Store away from moisture: Moisture is another enemy of spices. Keep your spice jars tightly sealed and never sprinkle them over a steaming pot!
Tips for Spice StorageDescription
Type of ContainerStore spices in airtight containers, preferably glass jars with tight-fitting lids.
LocationChoose a cool, dark place away from heat and light. Avoid areas near the stove or under bright lights.
MoistureKeep containers tightly sealed and away from steam or any form of moisture.
FreshnessGround spices last about one year, and whole spices can last up to three years.
Quality CheckRegularly perform a sniff test, look test, and taste test to check for potency.
Purchase DateWrite the purchase date on spice containers to track freshness and know when to replace them.
Whole vs Ground SpicesWhole spices last longer but need a grinder for use. Ground spices are convenient but lose flavor faster.
Storage LocationsConsider a spice rack in the pantry, a kitchen cupboard away from the stove, or a drawer away from heat and moisture.

Understanding how to properly store kitchen ingredients can make a world of difference in their freshness and flavor. If you found this post on storing spices useful, you might also be interested in learning about how to store onions or how to store garlic.

How long do spices last?

Just like food, spices don’t last forever. Ground spices usually keep their flavor for about one year, while whole spices can last up to three years if stored properly.

It’s a good idea to write the purchase date on your spice containers, so you’ll know when it’s time to refresh your stock.

If your spices surpass these general guidelines, don’t worry, they won’t necessarily spoil or become harmful, but they will lose potency and not flavor your dishes as well.

Consider investing in a quality spice rack to keep them organized and visible, making it easier to track their freshness.

How to tell if spices have gone bad

You don’t need to be a chef to know if your spices have gone bad. Here are three quick ways to tell:

  1. Sniff Test: Open the container and take a whiff. If the scent is weak or non-existent, the spice has likely lost its potency and should be replaced.
  2. Look Test: Check the color. Spices tend to lose their vibrant color as they age. If the spice appears faded, it’s probably past its prime.
  3. Taste Test: Take a small taste. If the flavor is weak or bland, it’s time for a new bottle.

Buying whole vs. ground spices

One big decision spice lovers face is whether to buy whole or ground spices. Both have their pros and cons.

Ground Spices

Ground spices are a convenient choice for the busy cook. These spices are already processed and ready to use straight from the container.

They are a great way to save time and effort, especially if you are trying to get dinner on the table quickly. Plus, they can be easily measured in teaspoons and tablespoons.

But, like all good things, they come with a downside. Ground spices tend to lose their flavor quicker than whole spices, often within a year.

So, it’s important to use them up while they’re fresh and to check their potency regularly.

Whole Spices

On the other hand, we have whole spices. These little gems of flavor are perfect for those who love a burst of freshness in their dishes.

Whole spices can maintain their flavor and potency for up to three years if stored correctly. Their secret is in the protective outer layer which helps keep the flavorful oils inside, preventing them from drying out.

When you’re ready to use them, you simply grind or crush them, releasing their intense flavor. However, using whole spices does require some additional tools like a grinder or a mortar and pestle.

It also takes a bit more time to prepare them, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your meals. Despite the extra effort, many home cooks find the fresh, potent flavor of freshly ground spices to be well worth it!

The best places to store spices

Now that you know how to keep your spices fresh, let’s talk about where to store them. Here are some great places:

  1. In a spice rack in the pantry: This keeps your spices organized, cool, dark, and away from moisture.
  2. In a kitchen cupboard away from the stove and sink: Again, this is a cool, dark, and dry place, making it an excellent choice for spice storage.
  3. In a drawer: This is an excellent option if you’re short on cabinet space. Just make sure it’s a drawer that’s away from heat and moisture.

However, if you’re looking to store fresh herbs, a great method is to wrap them loosely in a damp paper towel and place them in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator. This helps maintain their freshness and extends their usability for a longer time.

Can you freeze spices?

You might be wondering, “Can I freeze spices to extend their shelf life?” The answer is a bit complicated. While freezing will not harm most spices or herbs, it’s not always the best method of storage.

For one, moisture is a big enemy of spices, and freezing and thawing can introduce unwanted moisture, leading to clumping or mold growth. Spices also lose flavor when they’re frozen and thawed repeatedly, as the process can lead to the loss of essential oils that give spices their distinctive flavors.

However, if you’re dealing with a large quantity of fresh spices or herbs, freezing might be a viable option. Just be sure to use an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag to prevent any moisture or freezer burn.

For most dried spices, it’s best to store them in a cool, dry, and dark place in airtight containers. This will help to maintain their flavor and potency for as long as possible.

So, while you can technically freeze spices, it’s usually best to stick to traditional storage methods to keep your spices tasting their best.

Frequently asked questions about how to store spices

The best containers for storing spices are those that are airtight. Glass jars with tight-fitting lids are particularly good because they prevent air, moisture, and light from reaching the spices, which helps preserve their flavor and extend their shelf life.

This depends on your needs. Ground spices are convenient and ready to use, but they lose their flavor quicker than whole spices. On the other hand, whole spices have a longer shelf life and offer fresher flavor, but they require a grinder or mortar and pestle to crush before use.

Generally, spices don’t need to be stored in the fridge. Instead, they should be kept in a cool, dark, dry place like a pantry or a kitchen cabinet. However, some exceptions might include spices or spice blends that contain fresh ingredients.


Spices are a great way to add flavor and complexity to your dishes. By storing them properly, you ensure that their delightful flavors last as long as possible.

And don’t forget to do the occasional sniff, look, and taste test. With these tips, your spices will stay fresh and vibrant, ready to spice up your cooking!

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