Spices and Herbs Shelf Life

We are all guilty of it. Thinking we have all the ingredients we need for a recipe… then we pull the spice from our cabinet, and discover the best by date is long past. So, what do you do? Has your spice gone bad?

Here is the reality of the situation.

Spices and herbs do not go bad the way that dairy products, meat, or produce go bad. They don’t become rotten. What does happen, is their rich flavor diminishes, their vibrant color dulls, their bold aroma fades. You may find yourself adding more spice than is called for in your recipe.

Your old spices have become less potent versions of the deliciously bold, aromatic spices you once had.

We encourage use of your freshly ground spices and herbs within the 6 months to a year of receiving them, so they are fabulously flavorful! However, with proper care, the potency can extend much longer.

Of course, actual times can vary depending upon environmental and storage conditions, but here are rules of thumb for your optimum shelf life for spices and herbs:

  • Spices, whole: 3-4 years (not ground, for ex: caraway seeds, peppercorns, whole nutmeg)
  • Spices, ground: 2-4 years (for ex: cinnamon, ginger, paprika)
  • Herbs: 1-3 years (for ex: basil, oregano, rosemary)
  • Spice Blends: 2-4 years (for ex: berbere, chili powder, Italian seasoning)
  • Sea Salts, flavored: 2-4 years (for ex: black truffle sea salt, garlic sea salt)
  • Sea Salt, fine or coarse: indefinite

Can you continue to use your “expired” spices? You may.

But remember how you loved your spices when they first arrived? If they are past the “best by” date, and you notice they have become rather bland… you’ll be so much happier when the old jars are replaced!