Updated: May 23, 2021
No dish is complete without spices. We all just love using them in copious amounts and why not they impart beautiful flavour to our food and boast a lot of health benefits too. Talk about win-win! But just has much thought you put into buying the right kind of spices, how you store them equally matters. With proper storage and care you can certainly prolong the shelf life of your spices and retain their bright colours and impeccable flavours. Here are our tips to ensure your spices last longer and taste better.
1. Store your spices in airtight jars
Exposure to air will cause your spices to lose their flavor more quickly. Ever noticed how quickly your cardamom crumbles and loses potency with constant exposure to air? So whether you choose glass jars or metal tins, remember to keep those spice containers tightly closed. This ensures all that flavorful goodness from the spice stays in, while undesirable stuff like bacteria stay out.
2. Keep your spices away from sunlight
Direct exposure to sunlight also causes the spice to lose their flavour and also dries them up. Your best bet is to keep spice jars in a cupboard.
3. Keep spices away from heat
That shelf above your stove might seem like a handy spot to store your spices, but the heat is yet another factor that will quickly degrade their taste. Which again brings us to the previous point of keeping your spices airtight and out of direct light. Spices contain volatile compounds that if exposed to any unreasonable source of heat can cause them to lose their potency rendering them unfit for use.
4. Away from moisture please
Moisture also reduces the shelf life, another reason why keeping your spices near the stove is not advisable. A lot of times we end up putting wet spoons in spice jars in haste which is so wrong. Always make sure that the spoon is completely dry before dipping into your spice jar. Also never sprinkle spices directly from the jar over a steaming pot, because moisture can get into the bottle especially for spices like turmeric powder, chilli powder or garam masala.
5. Keep track of the age of your spices.
There’s a unanimous agreement that whole spices last longer and obviously taste better compared to their ground counterparts. Buying whole spices and grinding them at home just before use will maximize taste and freshness. Have you tasted hand pounded black pepper in soups? It's a different level of deliciousness. Whole spices stay fresh for longer—even up to two years! To really get the most out of your spices grind them in small batches as per your daily requirement and use them within 6-7 months.
These are some of our tried and tested best ways to store spices. Ultimately the best test for potency of a spice’s freshness will always be appearance, scent, and taste. If a spice no longer seems fragrant or flavorful, or if the color seems off, discard it for a fresh one.
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