January 16, 2006

Spices: Saving & Storing

How long are those spices good that are stored in the pantry? Here's the answer from the executive chef of Gourmet magazine and one of the top internet spice suppliers:

From Sara Moulton, this advice:

"If spices are kept in a cool dark place they should last for at least 6 months. After that you can still use them but you will have to use more in order to get the same potency. You can tell when their flavor is fading because their color fades: paprika and red spices go from bright red to dull brown, dried green herbs go from green to dull gray. When you buy dried herbs and spices, buy them in small quantities."

Source: SaraMoulton.com

From online, reputable SpiceBarn.Com:

"Whole herbs and spices last much longer than crushed or ground. Many people prefer to buy the whole form and crush or grind as needed. Herbs and spices can be crushed with a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder. Check ground spices for freshness at least once a year. If no aroma is detected, the seasoning needs to be replaced. Heat, sunlight, and dampness cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor and aroma quickly.

1. Store away from moisture as dampness will cause caking and loss of quality. Store in tightly covered jars and use clean, dry spoons for measuring. If you live in a high humidity area you may experience difficulty with caking.

2. Store in cool place away from light. Do not store in a window or in sunlight. Do not store near heat sources such as the range, dishwasher or refrigerator. Spice racks are nice, but not the best way to store your spices.

Shelf Life: Whole spices----2 to 5 years; ground spices---6 months to 2 years; leafy herbs-------3 months to 2 years; dehydrated vegetables---6 months

Tip: Make a note of the date of purchase on the label; then check them once a year and replace as needed.

Source: http://www.spicebarn.com/storing_spices.htm

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