Janet's Notebook
Freshen Up Spices for Maximum Flavor

Spices: Out with Old, in with New!

Winter clothes stashed for the season? Check. Floors mopped and vacuumed? Check. Dust, dust and dust some more? Check, check and check! Spices refreshed? Um... no.

I fancy myself a bit of a Spring-cleaning pro, but it sure was news to me that my spice rack needed some springtime TLC too. It turns out that most ground spices, in fact, have a shelf life of no more than one year! (Egads... I can date a couple of my spice bottles back to the decade when I got them.) These little guys add some serious pep to my recipe steps, so keeping them in tip-top shape is key!

To freshen-up my spice rack, I first began by hunting for expiration dates. Come to find out, many spice brands have expiration dates printed right on their labels. Who knew?! I also discovered that a few of the larger spice companies offer free "freshness checkers" on their websites. Just type in a code from your spice bottle and it will tell you to toss or not to toss! And when in doubt, a friend shared with me her favorite sure-fire fresh test: just rub a bit of the ground spice between your palms and if the scent released isn't strong, it's time to replace the bottle.

With all the fresh produce hitting stores and farmers' markets, now is the time to get fresh with your spices and give 'em a rub. Your recipes will turn out all the tastier for your effort.

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Joan ... - Jun 5, 2010
If you're a spice by taste cook and an older spice still exudes at least some of its original odor, what's the problem with using it? A tinch more likely will be needed to make up for diminished pungency, but so far no one has keeled over in this family.
Cheryl Morgan - Jun 1, 2010
DEollar Tree and Big Lots have spices that are good for everyday dishes, Big Lots sometimes will carry some more expensive spices....
Kimberly Banks - May 31, 2010
I use a vacuum sealer. It keeps everything very fresh and you can freeze the spices after they are vacuum sealed too.
Kallie Mendenhall - May 31, 2010
Just a little hint on replacing spices, for the stuff you use often check the dollar aisle at you local store. You may need to use a little spanish but you can save alot on garlic powder, chili powder, etc.
Cheryl Morgan - May 27, 2010
You can always freeze spices/date the bag & take out as necessary. This is for jarred spices.
Holly Sesay - May 27, 2010
I had heard this about replacing old spices, but I'm wondering are the scents of the old good enough to make envelope sachets? I am going to try it. I am in a friends wedding in July and need more ideas for favors. I think this will "spice" things up a bit.
Cheryl Allen - May 27, 2010
I like to us natural spices, especially Mint, and Chives I love Chives on about everything I eat. I am not always able to get what I want and I don't have a green thumb. Right now I am trying aloe Vera, and Cactus. My parrots love the aloe vera so I had to move both plants to the window.

I also can't have but 10 mgs of sugar a day, so I cook with splenda white and brown sugars.
Deb Kotansky - May 26, 2010
Yes Janet, I did know this. But knowing and actually DOING are 2 different things, lol. Some spices are so expensive nowadays, I have a hard time getting rid of them, but I guess I should. Thanks for the reminder... I think! lol