Spice storage is important if you want to get the best flavor and use out of your investment. Here are some storage tips that can help you get the most out of your spices and retain their potency and healing properties for as long as possible.
Spices are no longer worth more than their weight in gold the way they were a thousand years ago when Europeans first started to discover the wonders of the Far East and the Spice Islands (now Indonesia), but they are still a considerable investment in your food shopping budget that you will want to make the most of.
Used to enhance flavor and color in food, they can also reduce cravings because what you eat is more tasty and satisfying. Some spices even have medicinal properties thanks to their chemical components, fatty acids and antioxidants.
Tips for Spice Storage Solutions:
Whole spices like nutmeg stay fresher longer compared with ground ones, which absorb a lot of moisture and lose their potency. Buy whole and grate or grind them in a coffee grinder.
Use a separate grinder for spices than for your coffee
Buy a grinder to be used only for your spices when you need to use them. You don’t want any coffee taste to transfer to your food. A small marble mortar and pestle will also work well to grind most whole spices. You can also use it to lightly pound dried herbs to freshen up their taste.
Keep your herbs and spices in a cool, dry place away from the stove and out of direct sunlight. Store them in the original jars or tins they came in. If you buy in bulk, fill your jars and then put them in the freezer to preserve freshness, but all the way inside away from the door so they don’t get a lot of moisture.
Spices can last for up to three years. Dried herbs can last about a year provided you store them properly. Over time, they will lose their potency, so you might have to add more. But be careful – remember that dried herbs are three times more potent than fresh. Add and taste.
Look at the color
If the herbs and spices have changed color and are looking a bit anemic, they are fading in freshness and therefore in potency. Taste a small amount. If it doesn’t make your tastebuds sing, it’s time to replace it. You may also want to change your spice storage if this keeps happening!
Don’t hold your spice bottle over a cooking pot
Steam can get into the bottle and sap the strength of your spice or herb. Put some in your hand, rub it to release its flavor, and add to your recipe. Screw the cap back on tightly or close the tin carefully.
If you are using a measuring spoon, don’t dip it in
Sprinkle if you can, or “guesstimate” into the palm of your hand. A wet or dirty spoon can harm your spices.
Put foil over bottles with a grinder top
It’s fun to have freshly ground black pepper with just a twist of the cap, but the caps don’t form a good airtight seal. Use a piece of foil to cover it and to keep air and moisture out. Ideally, buy whole spices like peppercorns and grind or pulverize in a mortar with a pestle as needed.