5 Important Tips for Refreshing Your Spice Cabinet

updated May 1, 2019
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Just like you give your fridge and freezer a good cleaning throughout the year, or purge your pantry, the same is also necessary for your spice cabinet or drawer. And what better time to give this fragrant storage spot a refresh than with holiday baking on the horizon? Here are five smart tips to consider as you spruce up the spice cabinet.

1. Toss old spices that lack a strong taste, potent smell, and rich color.

Old spices should get tossed and restocked every three to four years. While spices don’t actually spoil or go bad, they do lose their flavor and potency over time. When spices lack a strong taste, potent smell, or rich color, it typically means they’re past their prime.

2. For more fragrant flavor, stock up on mostly whole spices.

When it comes to ground versus whole spices, it’s usually best to buy them whole. Not only will you get a stronger, more fragrant flavor, but the whole spice will last forever, as long as it’s stored properly.

3. But buy ground cinnamon, coriander, and cumin.

While whole spices are generally best so you can grind them as needed, it’s better to buy cinnamon, coriander, and cumin pre-ground if you want to use them as a fine powder. These spices are hard and fibrous, which makes them difficult to grind into a fine powder.

4. Proper storage is key to making spices last.

Both ground and whole spices will last much longer when they’re stored properly. Avoid plastic containers, which are porous, and instead store spices in glass containers; keep them in a cabinet or drawer away from heat and sunlight.

5. Mason jars are practical and inexpensive for spice storage.

For certain types of cooking that demand large amounts of spices (like Indian, Indonesian, and Malaysian) — the average little spice bottle just doesn’t cut it. Instead of letting bags of spices pile up, store them in a Mason jar. They hold a practical amount of spices, plus they’re easy to stack, store, and refill.