Skip Nav
Food Reviews
You'll Want to Buy (Almost) Every New Product From Trader Joe's This April
Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay's Transformative Way to Scramble Eggs
meal prep
21 #MealPrep Ideas That Are Anything but Boring

Say Farewell to Old Spices

The other day reader Marni dropped a line asking whether or not her mostly unopened spice rack she received four years ago was still good. I started to respond to her, when I realized that she's probably not the only one wondering how long spices last.

First of all, spices don't necessarily "go bad." Those spices you've got stored in the back of the cabinet won't harm you, however, they do lose their potency and flavor. As a general rule, most ground herbs and spices will retain their flavor for about a year and three years for whole spices (whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, etc). However you'll find the best potency in the first three to four months. If sealed and unopened, ground spices may last two years. A good trick is to write the date of your purchase on the spices and toss them out a year after opening and two if unopened.

Another important factor in a spice's life is storage. Spices need to be stored in a cool, dark place away from heat and moisture. The spices you've got in the fancy glass jars on the kitchen counter (you know, the ones that get all that sunlight) are going to have an even shorter lifespan. The heat and light will suck the flavor out faster than you realize. The refrigerator is also not a great place for storage as the humidity can harm the spices as well.

And although most spices won't hurt you when they're old, seeds such as sesame and poppy can go rancid, so if you're unsure of them, toss them out!

Around The Web
Join The Conversation
Mme-Hart Mme-Hart 10 years
I think my husband I use them too fast to worry about
boredatwork boredatwork 10 years
This reminds me to organize my spices. I've picked up bad habits from my mother. I swear she has a bottle of poultry seasoning as old as me.
a-nonny-mouse a-nonny-mouse 10 years
Now that is a well-stocked spice cupboard. (Thanks for the info, yum.)
Japanese Women Have Longest Lifespan in the World
YumSugar's Must Haves For January 2010
Spices to Reduce Bloating
Things to Get Rid of in Your Kitchen
Marble vs. Granite Countertops
Grover From Sesame Street Parodies the Isaiah Mustafa Old Spice Ads
DIY: Magnetic Spice Strips
Personality Decorating Tips
Old Spice Dad Commercial
Spiced Recipes
From Our Partners
Latest Food
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds