Fresh spices are great but sometimes you're in a pinch and have to use the bottled stuff lurking in the back of your cupboard. If you're like me,  you've probably wondered- does this stuff ever go bad? What's the shelf life of a bottle of cumin or when does a cinnamon stick turn? Well, after digging around a bit I discovered that dried herbs and spices don't spoil...BUT (yes, you knew that "but" was coming...) they do lose their strength over time. The key to preserving their potency is to store them in an airtight container in a cool dark place (don't keep them by your stove, the heat & steam will degrade them).

According to spice kingpin, McCormick, the general guideline for spice shelf life is:

To help you out even further, many spice manufacturers have "freshness checkers" that decode the numbers and letters that replace actual dates on some containers. Just click on the link and follow the site's instructions.

McCormick (along with the date, you get some humorous quips)
Spice Islands

* Note Schilling spices are no longer made and are at least 7 years old.
1 Response
  1. Again thank you so much. Always wonder about the spices, have a tendency to only buy small quantities, and then of course when I need them I am out and have to run to the bulk store again for more. Have you heard about keeping them in the freezer?

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