Do It Now! Throwing Away Our 4-Year-Old Spices

See these artfully arranged spices from Dean & Deluca? Aren't they pretty? They were a wedding gift. From 2005. In the spirit of our February Jumpstart Project, we're vowing to deal with these...

OK, we don't really use these spices. The test tube-like bottles are especially annoying, and we think this set was created more for eye candy than for actual cooking (there are solid pebbles of Fenugreek in there). And we know that spices lose their potency, that these things are pretty useless, and that they take up valuable space.

But it pains us to toss old spices for some reason. We have a hard time believing that they can't be used in a pinch. What if we need fenugreek pebbles?

Here's what we're promising:
• Throw out the dried herbs and spices that we know are dead. Maybe keep some of the cool peppercorns or colorful seeds, since they're visually appealing and actually don't lose strength as readily as ground spices or leafy herbs.
• Go through the rest of our spice collection (it's much, much more than this set). Toss what's really old, even if it's never been opened (yep, we have some of those, too), and not feel bad about it.
• Make a list of what we use most often: cumin, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, etc. and make sure those are fresh.
• Wash empty jars, gather the ones we like that look similar, and use those only, consolidating half-empty jars into one. Peel off old labels and make new ones, if we can. Or just buy new, uniform jars.
• Try to buy spices in bulk. Our Whole Foods doesn't offer bulk bins of spices, but we're looking for a convenient source.
• Find a use for the cool test tube holder. Anyone have an idea?

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More spice advice:
Weekend Project: Stocking the Spice Cupboard
Look! Spices Stored in Jam Jars
Two Thumbs Up: Spices in the Drawer
Keep Spices in the Dark with a Spice Drawer
Good Question: Storage for Spices
Spice Jar Labels in January Slinks

(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)

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