Do Spices Ever Go Bad?
‘Tis the season for spring cleaning! And while you’re freshening up your kitchen, consider giving your spice cabinet a little makeover, too.
As seasoning makers like McCormick point out, spices do not actually spoil. But when it comes to quality, the story is different.
Over time, spices will lose their potency and not flavour your food as intended. That’s because the essential oils that give spices their unique flavours break down over time, so they won’t add the same punch of flavour to your cooking that they once did.
As a general rule, whole spices will stay fresh for about 4 years, ground spices for about 3 to 4 years and dried leafy herbs for 1 to 3 years.
How can you tell if your spices are past their prime? Check for these tell-tale signs:
- Less-than-fresh taste: The freshest spices offer the most pungent flavour, while stale spices won’t add nearly as much kick to your recipes. If you find yourself adding extra seasoning to make the flavours sing, try replacing your spices.
- Faint aroma: Fresh spices have a powerful aroma you’ll notice the second you open the bottle. If you have to get close to the opening to smell the seasoning inside, your bottle needs to be replaced.
- Faded hue: Spices like paprika, cayenne and turmeric have vibrant colours (that make your meals look as delicious as they taste!). If they’re looking a little faded, they’re past their best-by date.
Curious about the shelf life of other items? Check out this fantastic website called Still Tasty You can also find out storage times for specific herbs and spices by consulting their blog: Keep It or Toss It database.