Spice shelf life: how long do spices keep?

Apr 17, 2023Gockels Redaktion

Rummaging through your spice rack, you noticed that some of the jars had been collecting dust unused for several months. A look at your best-before date reveals that you have long passed the zenith. But do spices really go bad? Our customers keep asking us this question about the shelf life of spices, which is why we would like to answer it in more detail in this article.

We are convinced that our spices are so tasty anyway that you will have used them up before the expiration date. Nevertheless, you should definitely read on if you are wondering which spices have a particularly long shelf life, what you can do to extend the spice shelf life and what you should already pay attention to when buying your spices.

Do Spices Go Bad?

It's the question of all questions regarding our spicy products: do spices go bad?
Basically, spices do not actually spoil, as would be the case with dairy products, fruit and vegetables or meat, for example. So this means if you consume a spice with an expired sell-by date, you won't end up with food poisoning down the toilet. The only effect this spice has on your food is that it no longer serves its purpose or tastes bland. Because spices lose their intensity and taste over time. Proper storage of your spice mixtures is all the more important so that you can enjoy them for as long as possible. We'll tell you later how best to store your seasoning mixes. Now let's first take a look at which of our spices have a longer shelf life than others.

Unground spices with a longer spice shelf life

Spices keep best in their unground form. That means our whole peppercorns, cloves, aniseed, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, juniper berries and whole cardamom, coriander or cumin seeds lose flavor and intensity less quickly than when we grind them for our spice blends. Incidentally, if they are stored well, they have a shelf life of four to five years, during which they do not lose any of their aroma. If you attach great importance to a very long spice shelf life, we recommend that you buy your spices individually and grind them yourself at home as required.

Blends have a shorter spice shelf life

However, you buy from us spice blends with ground ingredients, then you have to reckon with a shorter spice shelf life and pay particular attention to the storage of your spice mixture. In particular, you should use up spice mixtures that contain dried herbs and ground spices within 12 months, otherwise they lose their flavor intensity. The longer you store them open, the more they lose their flavor and color. If your spice mixes contain ingredients that can go rancid, such as nuts, you have to be even more careful and a small taste test before seasoning will help you to determine their condition.

How do I know if a spice is still good?

Maybe you're worried that your open spices will develop mold over the months and you should stop using them. We can reassure you, this is extremely unlikely. If you're not sure whether a spice will keep, you can always trust your sense of smell and taste. The aroma or taste of your spice is the best indicator of its shelf life and quality. If you smell your spice jar and the aroma is still strong, then you know for sure that you can still use your spice mixture. However, if the scent contains a strong note that you are not familiar with, then it is advisable to discard the condiment and buy a replacement.

You can also take a close look at your spice. Do you recognize unusual contamination caused by food moths or mold, for example? Can you easily break up any lumps in the seasoning mix with a fork? If you can't see any optical deviations and lumps can be easily removed, there's nothing wrong with using the spice after the expiration date.

While you might have overlooked something in the rush of cooking, while it's not appetizing to use a moth-infested spice, it's not harmful either. Any germs are killed by the high temperatures during cooking.

What can I do to extend the shelf life of the spice?

Our spices are aromatic natural products that consist exclusively of natural ingredients and, as with any product without chemical additives, their shelf life is not unlimited. This is primarily due to the fact that at some point they lose their aroma and no longer serve the purpose for which you bought them from us: to season your food and give it a very special taste.

So that you can cook with our spice mixtures for as long as possible, we have a few great tips for you to extend the spice shelf life in your kitchen.

Proper storage & storage - this is how you extend the spice shelf life

In order for your spices to last as long as possible, correct storage and storage is essential. We will now tell you what you should consider in this respect!

Do you have a spice rack where you neatly store all your spice jars? That is very commendable, because nothing beats a well-stocked spice rack when cooking. However, you should never hang it directly above or next to your cooking area. Your stovetop inevitably gives off heat, and the excessive heat can spoil the flavor of your spices.

Alternatively, you have the option of extending your spice shelf life by using a drawer as a storage location instead of a shelf. Direct sunlight affects the color and taste of your spices negatively. Paprika powder loses its red color over time when exposed to direct light. Opaque or brown storage jars can prevent or at least delay this effect.

Basically, we recommend high-quality spice jars or jars that are stable and airtight. A tight-fitting screw cap protects your spices from moisture and prevents lumps from forming. Special aroma lids protect the aromas from fading with a double closure.

If you buy refill packs for your spices in the supermarket, it is important that you immediately transfer them to appropriate storage jars, metal cans or resealable aroma bags. However, we personally prefer spice jars or jars, because these are particularly easy to clean after the spice has been used up and then refill them. Our basic rule for the ideal storage of spices is therefore: dry, dark & ​​cool .

However, cool does not mean that you should store your spices in the refrigerator. Since moisture tends to develop in the refrigerator, your spice mixes are more susceptible to mold and clumping. However, fresh seasoning ingredients such as chili peppers, ginger or lemongrass keep best in the refrigerator.

Freezing is also not worthwhile to extend the shelf life of the spice. Your spices will only lose their aroma and quality. At the latest when defrosting, the condensation water becomes a problem. However, if you have made an oil-based marinade or seasoning paste, you can freeze it until the next barbecue evening without hesitation, because the oil preserves the flavors of the spices.

It may be obvious to you, but we've seen a lot in various kitchens. Store your different spices in individual containers and don't pack them in a single container. If you keep different spices in one jar, the different flavors can mix together.

What to do with pests

If you notice visual changes such as "spider webs" in your spices, then you have most likely fallen victim to a food moth infestation. In such a case, unfortunately, there is not much you can do other than dispose of your spice mix and check all other spice jars for an infestation. Your goal should now be to determine the cause of the infestation and eliminate all pests. If you cannot find the origin of the moths, you run the risk of your freshly bought spices being infested again and you having to throw them away again. High-quality screw-top jars will help you prevent food moth infestation.

But bread beetles also like to deposit their larvae in dark spice containers. They come into the house from nature and often settle there very stubbornly. Unfortunately, you have to dispose of all infested food. The bread beetles do not have an easy time with screw-top jars and cannot get to your spices. So that's one more reason to store your spice mixes in quality storage jars.

Are lumps in the spice mix normal?

In addition to the correct storage, the use of your spices also influences their shelf life. If you pour the spice directly from the storage jar into your cooking food, rising steam can get into the spice mixture and cause lumps to form there. In the worst case, this type of use will make your spice moldy faster. We therefore recommend that you always season with a spoon or put the spice in the palm of your hand and then sprinkle it into the saucepan. At the same time, better dosing is possible.

Spice shelf life: what you should consider when buying

When you buy your favorite spice mixtures, you can do something to positively influence their shelf life. By purchasing smaller quantities of a spice, you ensure that you can use it in time before the flavors fade. Then it's better to buy more often instead of sitting on a huge supply for several months.

We mentioned it at the beginning of this post: ground spices lose their flavor faster than whole grains. With ground spice mixtures, it is therefore important that you only buy smaller quantities that you can use up within a maximum of 12 months.

We also recommend that you never buy open spices. At markets or in small retail stores, you can sometimes find spices that are in open bowls or sachets. Even if the packaging looks very nice, you don't know how much aroma the spice has already lost through the open packaging.

The secret recipe for a long spice shelf life is small quantities and the formula for success "dry, dark & ​​cool". We hope you were able to take away some valuable tips from this post. If you have any other tips that we haven't listed, please send us a message! Now we wish you a lot of fun browsing through our store .

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