Do Spices Expire?

You might not have considered it before, but those special spices you may only use once or twice a year actually expire. Not all of them expire at the same time, nor do they all have the same results when expired. Let’s go back and start with what spices actual are, according to the FDA. Their defined as “aromatic vegetable substances, in the whole, broken, or ground form, whose significant function in food is seasoning rather than nutrition.” To make it easier, we’ll include both herbs and spices, rather than delve into the differences of the two.

What happens when spices and herbs expire.

Spices and herbs are aromatic and add flavor. They also have beneficial health properties. While they don’t go bad and create potential health issues, spices do lose their potency, flavor and sometimes color. It’s very unlikely that an expired spice will every make you sick, but you could be just adding bulk to your dish, rather than flavor. When that happens, there’s simply no purpose to having them on hand, so tossing the spice may be the best option.

How long is the shelf life of spices?

How the spice or herb is processed makes a difference. If the herb is dried, then crushed, ground, powdered or partially whole, it can last between 1 and three years. Examples include oregano, thyme, dill, cilantro, sage, basil, ground cinnamon, garlic powder, ground paprika, red pepper flakes or ground allspice. However, the spices and herbs that last the longest are ones that are whole. That means less surface area is exposed to air, light and moisture that can cause it to lose its flavor and oxidize. Whole peppercorns, fennel seeds, cloves and cinnamon sticks are examples.

Keep your herbs ready to use with a window garden.

You won’t have to worry about having fresh herbs or spices if you grow your own. Some of the easiest herbs to grow in a window box include, basil of all types, sage, rosemary, oregano, parsley, lemon balm, sweet marjoram, thyme and savory. If you have more space than just a window box for larger plants, consider fennel, bay, ginger root and turmeric. You’ll always have fresh herbs that add extra nutrients and flavor to every dish.

  • Salt is one of the exceptions when it comes to spoiling. It can last indefinitely without losing any flavor. However, it’s also does not come from a plant part.
  • The difference between herbs and spices is that herbs come from the leaf of the plant, while spices come from other parts of the plant, such as the bark, buds or roots.
  • Keep fresh cinnamon on hand if you have problems with your blood sugar levels. It’s a potent antioxidant that fights inflammation, lowers cholesterol, but also can lower resting blood sugar levels by 10 to 29%.
  • A wide variety of herbs and spices not only increase your nutrient intake without increasing calories, but also can help fight infection. Holy basil, for instance, is well-known for its ability to fight bacteria and fungi, while boosting your immune system.

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