Many spices, especially the ground ones, unfortunately, lose their flavour over time.
Most spices contain essential oils, which evaporate easily.
Well stored, spices can be kept for a long time, sometimes several years. Many spices are even used to preserve other kinds of food. The pepper in sausages, for example, not only serves to enhance flavour but also to preserve the meat.
Whole spices, properly stored, usually last several years. Ground spices, on the other hand, stay fresh for about a year. After that, you should check them well. If they have lost their taste or the taste or smell has changed, it is better to replace them.
Unfortunately, spices can also be attacked by food moths. Surprisingly, these small animals also love hot spices, for example, peperoncino. Unfortunately, if they are attacked by pests, the spices cannot be saved.
Eight important tips for storing spices
- Buy small quantities. You should use up the spices you buy within one or two years. Whole spices last longer and lose their flavour less quickly.
- Use hermetically sealed containers so that the taste does not evaporate and the food moths cannot get in ?
- Use dark, lightproof containers. For example dark glass. Alternatively, you can use transparent glass and store it in a closed cupboard or drawer. Spices “fade” quickly when exposed to light.
- Speaking of containers; they must be odourless. Glass is fine, stainless steel too. With plastic you have to make sure that the quality is excellent, otherwise, the spices will smell (and taste) like plastic. A cloth between spices and container can help. Or you can put the spices in a small paper bag in the plastic container. In addition, some essential oils present in the spices dissolve certain plastic compounds. In this case, especially the lids of the containers become very soft.
- Spices do not tolerate moisture, which means that you must choose a place to store them so that no moisture can get to your spices. Moist spices clump together and in the worst case moisture can cause mould. The shelves above steam vents are therefore not ideal. In addition, you should not put the spices from the container directly into the pan – precisely because of the cooking steam. It is better to put the amount you need on your hand and then into the pan.
- Spices are NOT kept in the refrigerator. The condensation will settle on the spices and this will cause mould.
- You can store spices in the freezer, but you do not necessarily have to.
- Oily spices (sesame, poppyseed) can become rancid and you should only buy them in small quantities.
In spite of all caution, spices can clump (for example ours, as they do not contain any anti-clumping agent). That’s not too bad, you can simply crush the spice lumps with a fork and continue using them as before.
Another little special tip
Some spices develop their flavour better if you roast them dry in a pan. For example cumin, or coriander or curry. This means that you put them into the dry pan and roast them until they exude a wonderful smell. Only then you add the other ingredients. But be careful, spices burn easily, then they, unfortunately, become bitter!
What is your storage tip?