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How to Store Bulk Spices & Herbs the Right Way for Longer-Lasting Flavor

Posted by on 8/28/2018
How to Store Bulk Spices & Herbs the Right Way for Longer-Lasting Flavor
Regardless of whether you buy your spices in bulk or in small containers from your grocery store, understanding how to store them the right way will help preserve their flavor longer.

Before putting your favorite go-to spices above the stove next to the salt and pepper shakers, read on to learn how to keep spices fresh by adopting these proper storage practices. 

First things first — let’s establish what you need to keep your spices and herbs away from. 

These elements will break down the longevity of your spices and herbs, making them useless for cooking:
  • Light exposure causes ingredients, especially pigmented spices (e.g., red chili powders, green herbs like basil and parsley), to deteriorate over time.
  • Heat, like light, causes ingredients to deteriorate.
  • Oxygen will cause the natural essential oils in the spices to oxidize, diminishing their flavor and potency.
  • Moisture, such as humidity, promotes mold growth, and can also lead to flavor loss faster. 
Here’s how we can counteract against these elements to increase the shelf life of your spices and herbs.

Pick the Right Container

When it comes to picking the best containers for spices and herbs, always consider your usage of the ingredients. Large jars are useful when you seal the cover tightly, prohibiting oxygen into the container. But every time you use the jar, the amount of the spice or herb you use will be replaced with more and more oxygen. That’s why we recommend you use smaller jars for storing spices and herbs.

When you buy your spices and herbs, pour them out of the original packaging after you first use them. You have several storage options. 
  • Glass mason jars with twist tops are a smart choice because the cover can seal tightly, preventing oxygen from sneaking back in. Plastic containers can also perform this function. 
  • Tin is another option if you don’t have a dark place to store your spices and herbs. The tin will prevent light from penetrating your ingredients.
  • Amber glass is another good option if you choose to keep your spices out of a cabinet. You’ll get the sturdy glass seal while preventing light from affecting the substance.

Find a Good Storage Spot

Cabinet storing herbs and spices in various containers

As beautiful as spices and herbs may look on the counter in your kitchen, this isn’t an ideal environment for storage. The temperature in your kitchen fluctuates easily with the oven and stove. The opening of windows and changing of lights can spoil your spices and herbs faster, too.

Finding a dark space is the first step in how to store herbs. A cabinet or drawer is a great place because light rarely sneaks in. 

It’s important to consider the humidity of these spaces, too. That’s why you should dedicate a cabinet or drawer to your spices so they’re away from other substances that can have an effect on your supply. Your refrigerator sounds like an ideal spot, but there is a lot of moisture and changes in temperature when the door is opened and closed.

If you don’t have the luxury of space, a storage rack can be installed to help keep spices and herbs separated from the other cabinet items. 

Storing spices in a freezer is an option you can try. However, be aware of the large fluctuation in temperature that can occur. If you choose to store spices in the freezer be cognizant of the time you have it out of the cold and put them back in the freezer as soon as possible.

Even sprinkling herbs and spices directly out of the container and into a steaming pot can cause a big enough swing in temperature to affect the longevity of your ingredients. The steam from the pot also adds moisture into your ingredient container. Always sprinkle the spices into your palm or measuring spoon before adding it to your delicious creation on the stove.

When to Replace Spices & Herbs

The shelf life of herbs and spices depends on the substance. You should be aware that the finer the seasoning, the shorter the lifespan. Whole spices, roots, and bark herbs will generally last longer than others. 

A good rule of thumb is to check the potency of your spices and herbs every 6 months. All you have to do is take the top off and give the container a good whiff. If the aroma that was there 6 months ago is lost, your spice or herb has begun to lose its potency. Crush a little bit in your hand — if there is no aroma left, it is probably best to replace the product.

Many wonder if herbs and spices go bad. It is extremely rare that they will, unless mold begins to form in the container (indicating moisture was introduced into the container at some point). Well before a herb or spice normally spoils, they will lose their flavor.  

If you’re looking to enhance the shelf life of herbs and spices, browse our selection of container options. And if you’re checking your herbs and spices right now and it’s time to renew, you can choose from the large selection on our website.