In case you were wondering, that's the sound of a spring. Today, March 21, is the first day of spring and although I love spring, one of the things I don't enjoy 100% is spring cleaning. But the joy of opening up the windows and letting the light in is accompanied by the observation of all those grimy spots that you just never noticed when it was dark and dim during winter. So, do yourself a favor and wipe down the walls, dust off the shelves, wipe down the blinds, clean the oven and the fridge and all those other big-time chores that you've been putting off. Although I dislike spring cleaning (oh who am I kidding, I pretty much hate cleaning whether its spring, summer, or fall), one of the things that I always do (always=once before, but I'm hoping it becomes a tradition) is clean out my spice rack.
To check out my tips for clearing out your spice rack, and yes, old spices need to be cleared on out,
Okay, so you've got a bunch of spices that you've had in your cupboard forever and ever. How do you know when it's time to toss them? Well, believe it or not, ground spices/herbs are best the first 3-4 months after they've been opened and will really only retain their flavor for about a year (maybe a little longer for spices). They won't hurt you in any way (unless they've been infested with bugs, which means just toss and replace), but their potency will have weakened. Whole spices (nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, etc.) should last about three years. Seeds (such as sesame and poppy) can go rancid; so if you're unsure about them, don't risk it. Baking powder lasts 6 months and baking soda 18 months. Oh and salt? That guy can stay; his pal seasoned salt only gets to hang out for a year.
Since you're spring cleaning, toss out anything that has been in your cupboard for a long time and start over. When you buy replacement spices, be sure to label the purchase date on the bottle, this way you won't have to do the sniff/taste test to see if they're still good.
Have a question about a specific spice? Drop us a line, or leave a comment below!