DinnerDork [ ˈdi-nərˈdȯrk ]

The cool dark world of spices

Ok, so “the cool dark world of spices” is perhaps a bit….much, but hey – I’m trying to spice this up…(I should be embarrassed, but I’m not). In all seriousness, without being anthropomorphic about the spice genre of eating, spices “like” cool dark storage – it maximizes their flavor and shelf life. Here are a few tips on proper spice storage (aka respecting the coolness and darkness of their world):

  1. Do NOT store spices above or next to the oven or range. The “NOT” is meant as in…avoidance….don’t do it if you can avoid. I’ll spare you the story about my first, teeny-tiny, uber-crampy, creepy apartment where I literally, as in all jokes aside actual reality, could not out-stretch both of my arms within the kitchen because it was so small. But yes, not every space affords the privilege of choice positioning; however, if you can avoid it – store your spices away from the oven and range. Cooking appliances and the act (art) of cooking give off heat and humidity that decreases the flavor and shelf-life of spices, so it’s best to just store them elsewhere.
  2. Do NOT store spices on top of the refrigerator. See all of the rage above. Yeah, the top of the fridge can be a hot an humid place as well. Great for ripening fruit, not so great for spice storage.
  3. Store spices away from light, when possible. This goes for natural and incandescent, halogen, energy-efficient – you get it, man-made light. Over time, light exposure decreases the potency of spices,  and we want our spices to be as potent as the day we bought them.
  4. Don’t dispense spices over steamy or boiling pots. Remember, humidity is kryptonite to spices – it doesn’t kill them, it just makes them wimpy. Keep your spices strong, by removing what you need and keeping the container away from the scene of cooking. The simple act of pouring spices into a steaming pot can expose the entire unused contents of the spice container to potency damaging steam.
  5. Liquid is also a spice joy-kill. Make sure that every utensil you put into a spice container is totally dry. Using wet utensils introduces moisture (and potentially bacteria) into an otherwise dry spice container and, you got it – the lowered potency thing.

Properly stored spices can last for years. Seriously, years. As in up to 4 years for whole spices, 2 -3 for ground and 1 -3 for dried herbs. Using proper storage will save money and time in the long-run.