10 Spice and Herb Storage Tips Article - Allrecipes.com
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How to Store Herbs and Spices: 10 Tips

You just bought new spices and herbs for your recipes. Now see how to keep them fresh.




1. Whole spices--like nutmeg--maintain their freshness longer than ground ones.


2. Keep spices and herbs away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. Even a commonly used herb like dried bay leaves should be kept away from the stove.


3. Spices and herbs will keep for a long time if you store them properly. Whole spices can last 4 years! Ground spices like mustard can last for 2-3 years and contribute to hundreds of tasty homemade salad dressings. Herbs last anywhere from 1-3 years, depending on the herb.


4. They don't spoil, but spices and herbs do lose their strength. Old and weak seasonings will not deliver the taste that they should. Don't end up with flavorless ham just because your cloves lost their power!


5. You don't need any special instrument to test whether spices are fresh. Just use your senses. If the color of the spices has faded, their flavor probably has too. Taste and smell your spices and herbs: if a strong spice like garam masala doesn't tickle your nose and tantalize your tongue, replace it.


6. Don't sprinkle spices and herbs directly from the bottle over a steaming pot. Steam can sneak into the spice bottle and sap your spices' power. If you're wondering why ground spices like allspice can get hard and caked in the bottle, steam may be the culprit.

Allspice, ground

7. Make sure your measuring spoon is completely dry when you dip it into the bottle. The moisture can quickly ruin the flavor of an aromatic spice like cinnamon.


8. Members of the red pepper family, including paprika and chili powder, keep their color and stay fresher when stored in the refrigerator.


9. Replace bottle lids tightly immediately after use to keep out moisture and lock in the flavor you want from a highly aromatic spice like fennel seeds.


10. An inexpensive coffee grinder can also be deployed to grind whole seeds, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Fresh-ground spices are especially flavorful.

Comments
Oct. 5, 2009 6:40 am
i tried drying herbs before..they just turned brown...what is the best way to dry herbs and still maintain their colour and taste??
 
jwertman 
Nov. 21, 2009 7:28 pm
You can dry a lot of herbs simply by hanging them upside down for a while. I did that this summer with dill, oregano, rosemary, and sage, just hanging them from my cabinet knobs with string tied around the stems. Much better flavor from fresh dried herbs, good luck!
 
Jan. 14, 2010 9:07 am
is there a trick to preserve fresh herbs without drying them out? It seems they only last 2 or 3 days in the fridge sealed in zipped bags. Basil seems to be the worst and it is my favorite. Also how do you cut basil without bruising the ends. Tried my best knife different way, tried scissors. Just cant get them to be beautiful?
 
cookamaker 
Jan. 19, 2010 6:15 am
Try drying in oven on cookie sheet for about 10 or 15 minutes,crumble in hands and store in dry container or ziploc bag.Also chop fresh and can be frozen in ziploc bag/ Hope this helps. Let me know.
 
cookamaker 
Jan. 19, 2010 6:17 am
Hi, is is me again. Freeze chopped onions,peppers,cooked carrots also.
 
indypam 
Feb. 25, 2010 7:12 am
For storing fresh herbs, quickly rinse-shake well-loosely wrap in dry paper towel, then place in ziploc bag and store in vegie bin in fridge.
 
cjsplace 
Mar. 15, 2010 5:41 pm
I've had luck with 2 different processes. Try separating the leaves (basil, parsley, etc) and spreading out on a cookie sheet and flash freezing in the freezer. Place in air tight freezer bags, and chop, while still frozen, works wonderfully. I've also done the same with the leaves but simple laid them out on paper towel and allowed them to air dry over 2-3 days. Gently crumble them and store them in glass jars.
 
Apr. 8, 2010 11:17 pm
I have an old dehydrater..it has only one tray left but I use it for drying herbs...I put some linen on the tray to catch any stray leaves and do one herb at at time..in three days I have dried herbs that can then be put in jars with an oxygen tablet to keep them fresh.
 
mushroom lady 
Apr. 24, 2010 6:30 am
Great tips and will try some in the coming season; however, I have given up on basil and just make a ton of pesto. I freeze in ice cube trays, then seal in bags. Walnuts are cheap and good alternative to pine nuts.
 
Kglaser7 
May 10, 2010 5:31 pm
I take fresh herbs...chop them and place in ice trays...then fill the remaining space in the cubes with water and freeze. Once frozen, you can pop them out and store into baggies and reuse the tray for another herb.
 
DianeWD 
May 25, 2010 1:07 pm
Keep you dry rosmary stems to use as shiskabob skewers!
 
Laverne Smith 
Jul. 21, 2010 8:32 am
Thank you for the advise, it was very helpful.
 
Aug. 5, 2010 7:28 pm
is there a herb chart available to tell us what herbs go best with meat, fish, vegetable, soups etc?
 
Buscie 
Sep. 1, 2010 9:07 am
There's an herb chart on the inside front and back cover of the 1972 Betty Crocker Cookbook. Maybe it's still in whatever new version is on the market. I hope so! :)
 
ja2615 
Sep. 4, 2010 3:23 am
Place basil in food processor with a tspn of olive oil and freeze in small ziploc bag. Then use as needed.
 
Sep. 26, 2010 12:54 pm
I have had excellent success with drying basil leaves and crumbling. Place leaves on a microwave plate so none of the leaves are touching. Microwave +/- 3 minutes until leaves are crispy and can be crumbled but are still green. Make sure the stems have been removed and place them in a food processor or mini-grinder and pulse until they reach your desired size. I save empty spice jars, fill them with basil and relabel. I have fresh dried basil year-round.
 
aletta 
Dec. 16, 2010 12:28 am
I don't dry or freeze basil. I keep 3 or 4 small pots in the window with the herbs that i use most. they grow well and make my house look and smell great!! It's a good way to beat the winter blues too.
 
hotelie 
Feb. 4, 2011 6:22 am
Fresh rosemary....put sprigs in a sealable plastic bag and stick in the freezer. Will last for months and be as good as fresh.....
 
Dflwr08 
Feb. 16, 2011 7:04 am
Can you freeze fresh garlic cloves?
 
Bert 
Feb. 23, 2011 9:24 am
Does anyone know how many carbs are in a 4 oz. glass of wine?
 
Marcy 
Feb. 23, 2011 12:09 pm
Dry white wine is 10 calories an ounce.
 
Brenda 
Apr. 10, 2011 10:29 pm
http://www.herbalgardens.com/herb-chart.html A great herb chart.......
 
GRANNIENITA 
May 6, 2011 5:57 am
I dry my herbs in a dehydrater and then pulse them in my bullet. Then they look just like the herbs you buy in the store only they keep their color and smell fresher. I dry basil, dill, oragano, mint, thyme and spinach.
 
Judy 
Sep. 14, 2011 4:59 am
I bought fresh rosemary for a recipe,and I keep it in my frig, what can I do to keep it fresh?
 
Nov. 27, 2011 2:12 am
I have lots of fresh rosemary. I bring some in and remove lower needles and put in glass of water. In about a week they will start growing roots. It will grow and grow those roots and stay nice for a long timer. Handy to have when cooking.
 
Feb. 24, 2012 12:56 pm
There is a Wonderful Herb/Seasoning Sustitute Chart at About.com
 
DebB 
Apr. 10, 2012 1:12 pm
does anyone know when the best time to harvest herbs is? I have a a small herb garden and use a lot fresh but not sure when to pick them to dry
 
Apr. 15, 2012 5:59 pm
Thanks for the wonderful spice storage advice!
 
Apr. 21, 2012 9:31 am
I am guilty of shaking my herbs right into my steaming pot. Never really thought about it before. Thanks for the hint!
 
Apr. 21, 2012 10:56 am
This is very useful. Thank you for the tips!
 
Apr. 21, 2012 7:09 pm
Excellent article. Thanks for the useful tidbits of knowledge to get the most out of our spices.
 
Jolie 
Apr. 26, 2012 5:05 am
Deb B Best time to harvest is morning. Essential oils are strongest then
 
donnam 
May 1, 2012 10:48 am
Great article! I love the tips regarding spices. I've had a problem with storing garlic powder because it seems to retain moisture, yet, I don't sprinkle it over anything. I think it's due to where I live.
 
May 7, 2012 7:57 am
Great piece! Since I can't always store whole spices, I take advantage of a great local spice shop that has wonderful, high-quality spices from all over the world. I buy in small quantities, and get new spices about every 6 months to a year as I need more.
 
firecooker 
Jun. 2, 2012 6:29 pm
Take a small mason jar and put a little oil in it and then place fresh basil leaves or diced chives. will last a long time in the fridge and when you use them you don't have to put any oil in your pan cause it's already there. for use with frying or as marinade. good luck
 
DLR1 
Jul. 7, 2012 8:24 am
I like herb butter on many dishes, steak, burgers, corn on the cob, etc. I chop up many combinations of fresh herbs, mix with softened butter, roll into a "log" in plastc wrap and freeze. I find that's agood way to use up my fresh herbs!! And it's DELICIOUS!!
 
BIH 
Jul. 28, 2012 6:10 am
I have spices that have caked together because of moisture. Does anyone know how to "declump" spices. Thanks, en avance.
 
Petsie 
Aug. 29, 2012 5:46 pm
A mortar and pestle is priceless in saving and using fresh herbs and spices. Dried leaves crush easily.
 
ERANDE 
Sep. 16, 2012 7:36 am
I agreee with jamdee8 that the best and esiest way to dry herbs is just to put them on a paper towel on a serving plate in the microwave for 1 minute at a time, rearranging them often, until they are dry but definitley still green. Then I crumble them with my fingers and store them in glass jelly jars in a dark cool place. I have been doing this for 30 years! The herbs stay fresh for at least a year and keep all their flavor. Every year I do basil, oregano, thyme, parsley. The herbs that don't keep their flavors anyway you dry them are dill weed, cilantro and chives. Don't waste your time trying to dry those!
 
James 
Dec. 31, 2012 5:36 am
what are greens or what's in green seasonings. Thank you an a very Happy New Year to all at Allrecipes, i have great success from your recipes here an will continue in 2013 to have greater success.
 
Laura 
Jun. 3, 2013 7:35 pm
I dehydrate my herbs with good results. They remain flavorful for at least a year. I guess the microwave would deliver the same type of preservation. I use an electric dehydrator.
 
 
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