Admit it. Have you thrown out any spices, ever? Are you called the spice hoarder at home? Do you think spices are good until they’re gone? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions–this post is for you!
1. The Nose and Eye Test: Mrs. Fields (yes, that Mrs. Fields) gave us these two simple tips to test if your spices should be kept or tossed — first, smell the spice. If you get a rich, nose full then the spice is good to keep. If not, toss it. Check out the spice color. If it has a grayish color or the vibrancy of the color is gone, toss it. She says these spices won’t make you sick but they won’t have the same flavor-enhancing effects that you want.
2. The six-month rule: many chefs actually advise to toss out your spices twice per year. But…the last time we checked a new bottle of curry spice was $9 at the grocery store, so if getting all new spices every six months is out of your price range stick to the guidelines from the folks at McCormick.
Ground spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric – 2-3 years.
Dried herbs like basil, oregano: 1-3 years.
Mixed seasoning blends: 1-2 years.
Whole spices like cloves, cinnamon sticks: 4 years
*Another plug for McCormick – you can actually plug in the code found on the bottom of each McCormick spice bottle in the Fresh Taster feature on its website. The feature will tell you how old the spice bottle is and you can toss accordingly!
Don’t have McCormick spices? With a pen/marker put the date on each spice bottle as soon as you get it. Then, each year around the same date (perhaps the day after Christmas, or New Year’s Day) go through your spices and toss those that are too old.
Want to start now? Take your best guess of when you bought the bulk of your spices and put that date on each of your jars. If anything is more than 4 years old, has lost its vibrant color or has no smell — toss it!
Also – remember storing spices is important in extending their shelf life – always store away from the oven or any other direct sources of heat like a vent.