Favorite Spices

Survival Spices and How-to Store Long Term

Favorite Spices – Long Term Storage ‘Must Have’ Spices?

We all have our favorite spices. And, you might say that there are several ‘staple’ Survival Spices, right?

Mrs.J and I have several drawers in the kitchen with nothing but spices – all sorts of flavors. We also buy some of them in bulk – vacuum sealed bags for long term storage. When a spice jar is getting low, we’ll open a bulk bag and refill it as needed.

Spices can really compliment the overall flavor of a given food / meal – completely altering it to one’s taste, a particular cuisine, ethnicity…

One thing is for sure with regard to long term food storage and preparedness: Having a wide variety (and quantity) of spices will make even ordinary staple foods such as Rice & Beans (and many others) more palatable with various flavors!

How-to Keep Spices Fresh, Long Term Storage

Spice Storage Tips:

  • Keep your favorite spices in the dark (e.g. drawer, cabinet)
  • Store spices away from stove or other heat source
  • Air-tight jars are good
  • Vacuum seal or Ziploc bulk storage

Our daily-use spices are kept in two drawers in the kitchen (as opposed to on a rack mounted on the wall). We keep all of our extra spice (bulk) storage in a storage bin with a lid. Various packaging. It’s kept in a relatively cool place in the house.

We really haven’t come across any noticeable degradation issues over the years. I believe that if the original spice/herb product is of good quality (there’s cheap junk out there), it will maintain freshness and ‘pizzazz’ for a long time.

Bonus Tip:

Don’t shake spice over steaming food. Moisture will get into the container, possibly speeding up mold growth. Instead, shake some of that spice in your hand and sprinkle it on.

Don’t get food fatigue. Spice it up!

Lets say you’re having to dig into your long term food storage (for whatever reason). Hopefully you won’t become mired in dull food flavor fatigue…

Think it through. You’ve spent time and money storing extra food for ‘just in case’. Don’t forget about the spices.

One thing I find interesting… even though we have a wide variety of spices, I tend to reach in the drawer for my favorite spices. I need to force myself to try new flavors!

Your Favorite Survival Spices

So here’s the question for you… What are your favorite spices?

Of course, the ‘staple’ spices are SALT and PEPPER (peppercorns)! If I could only have one, it would be Salt. If I could have two, they would be Salt and Pepper!

I like ‘Montreal Chicken’ and ‘Montreal Steak’ seasoning. Yum. Something about their formula is delish.

Garlic every day. We grow our own. So it’s always fresh (until middle of winter time). Also have it in dry powder (spice) form – in a jar.

Other staples like Oregano, Thyme, and Basil. Many uses, as of course you know…

Turmeric! Sometimes sprinkled on fried eggs, along with some crushed black pepper (a healthy combo in moderation).

Oh, regarding the salt, we mostly use Pink Himalayan Salt in our salt grinder. Again, apparently more healthy than processed salt. That said, iodized salt is a good thing too because most people are iodine deficient these days.

The other salt that I use… Kosher salt (larger crystals) for marinating steak (at least one hour ahead of time). Oh boy…

Rosemary. I love the flavor. Sprinkled on chicken is so good…

Onions. Is that a spice? Well, we dehydrate Vidalia onions during the summer. Then, we’ve got Vidalia yumminess all winter.

Oh my, there are so many good ‘survival spices’ (grin). I could go on and on. But I’m curious to know some of your own favorites… and any secrets how to store spices long term.

[ Read: Grow Your Own Garlic – Just Plant The Cloves ]

[ Read: Dehydrated Onions | How to Dehydrate and Store Them ]


  1. All of the above, add Cumin, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Coriander, to the regular daily use list.
    We keep a cabinet full of regular use, and then two shelves of “overflow” in the dark shelving section of the extended pantry. Buy in bulk and refill the current use jars. Italian herbs seem to get the greatest use in this house. We use pink Himalayan salt, and I keep MOST of my peppers in hard corn form for freshest grind. Red pepper flakes kept at the back of the dark shelf last longer.
    We eat many different culture foods in this house….love all things European, Asian, Indian/Nepalese, South American, Mexican……guess we are just foodies…..so when the original food storage plan was developed SPICES Reigned! I also went out of the way to see that we would always have plenty of dehydrated fruits, fresh nuts (lots of varieties) on hand to spice up cream of wheat or oatmeal so that those grains would not be boring after days on end.

  2. oh, and I forgot….to augment “older” baking powder….keep baking soda and CREAM OF TARTER on hand. a dash of each added to old baking powder reinvigorates it nicely. and for those of you who don’t know what or where Cream of Tarter comes from….it is the resveritrol residue at the bottom of wine casks….so really good antioxidant for life.

    1. Pioneer Woman,
      Good points on Cream of Tarter. You can produce your own at home if you grow grapes. If you juice your grapes, then freeze the juice, the Cream of Tarter (COT or tartic acid) precipitates out. Thaw the juice in a canvas or muslin bag, catching the juice in a pot.. makes for clear juice and the COT will be on the bottom of the bag. Rinse this in cold water to clean it, then dry it out. It will be in a form of small whitish or clear crystals. Doing this also makes your juice less acidic and tastier also.

      1. Minerjim & PW
        Thanks for this information. Something else I did not know about, nor how it was created.

      2. Thanks….I have NOT planted grapes here in the valley yet….maybe next summer….but used to make my own wines when on the mountain. Always had a nice supply of cream of tarter. Thank you for reminding me!

        1. Pioneer Woman,
          If you do plant grapes in the coming year, may I suggest you find some Zweitgelt. It’s and Austrian grape, red, used for wine. After we cold stabilized the juice, it made great jelly also. We are at the same latitude, but 100-150 miles west. Inland Desert Nursery in Washington carries them.

        2. Thanks for the tip! I had imported Malbecs from Argentina for the Mountain (due to altitude and acclimation issues….they did OK. Will look into the Zweitgelt.

  3. As you mentioned it is a good idea to store spices you may not use regularly. Tastes do change as you age! :) We store ours in glass jars and vacuum seal the lids. Recent additions include yellow mustard seed, celery seed, and other pickling spices.

  4. Magic Dust. Homegrown, dehydrated, powderized in a blender. Jalapeno Magic Dust. I keep a shaker mixed 50:50 with black pepper. The wife has lots of spices, her department. For me, magic dust is a “gotta have.” You’ve done it again, Ken. Now I have to thaw some jerky meat (venison). That stuff requires magic dust. The jerky seems to disappear around here!

  5. I really need to pay better attention to stuff like this,, its a flaw of mine.

  6. Thanks for the bonus tip ! Can’t believe that never occurred to me. I’m going to start doing that from now on.

  7. I buy large and refill the smaller shaker bottles. I must have garlic powder!

  8. Ken, with your paprika, be sure to try the smoked paprika. It takes it to a whole new level. Your first choices are my first choices as well…
    You can dry your own herbs in a small paper bag. Leaving the leaf whole, until you crumble it in the pot makes for fresher flavor. The paper bags, with name of each herb, can get thrown under your bed and dry quickly. Be sure not to leave them in think clumps. Ask me how I know :)

  9. Does anyone know the shelf life of cream of tartar? Baking soda and powder?

    1. SMG
      I know that baking powder has a time limit as for the other two, do not recall my mom saying anything about it.

    2. SMG,
      Indefinite for cream of tartar and baking soda ,unless they get wet. About a year on the baking powder.

  10. Along with the usual herbs you grow and use fresh & dry, there are foraged items too. Birch leaves are one sassafras leaves — gumbo file, is another.
    We dehydrate garden greens too. Past summer tried dehydrated lettuce. Not much flavor but a good addition to a seasoning blend.
    Fresh Nasturtium leaves and flowers added to a salad gives a nice peppery flavor. Dried, they loose their punch. However, I’ve read that during WW2 black pepper was in short supply. So folks used dried Nasturtium seeds & unopened flowers as a substitute. Don’t really taste like black pepper but they do have a distinctive flavor.
    Then there are condiments. For example ketchup can be made from a variety of things including apples and foraged high-bush cranberries.

    1. Dry land Cress se have a spicy flavor. growing up we knew it as Chicken Pepper.

  11. Forgot to add, from the garden also dehydrate celery and especially the leaves.

  12. Would vacuum sealing or freezing extend the life of baking powder? Or forget baking powder and store baking soda, corn starch and cream of tartar?
    Wish I had researched this more, I just bought 5lbs of organic baking powder (no aluminum)

    1. SMG
      Sorry missed the other part of your question. I used the peach jars from Costco to hold my baking soda when I open a bag, or fill a couple of jars then put the bag up, same with corn starch they go into the larger jars. I put a label on the jars so that I know what I am reaching for when I need it asap. Do the same for powdered sugar, as they look the same…lol

    2. Stand as I understand it it’s atmospheric moisture that causes baking powder to go bad.

      So sealing up what you are not using at the time seems to extend the storage life.

      Otherwise how would baking powder and cream of tarter last nearly forever? The Mixture + H2O = activation.

      Nothing wrong with having plenty of cream of tarter and Baking Soda eh?

    3. Stand,
      Ken has an article,
      How to store baking essentials for longer life.
      Found it in kitchen/food preps
      Hope this helps.
      Nice to see ya posting again.

  13. SMG
    What I have done is taken spices and placed them in smaller jars. I figure it is better than leaving the items in plastic which air soluble. My favorite jars are the 4oz baby food jars, lids snap on after air is removed during the vacuum sealing of the bag. In using the smaller jars your products exposure is reduced.
    If you missed the part from believe it was PW you can freshen it with cream of tater to give it life again.

  14. We purchase a lot of spices from Costco that are packaged in large plastic containers. I can smell the spice through the plastic and that means air can get in and go out leading to oxidation and the degradation of the flavor. We have access to almost unlimited, used glass IV bottles so I transfer all the spices to the clean and dry bottles and suck out as much air as possible with a syringe. They keep the spices fresh for much, much longer. I sure do miss products packaged in glass (like mayonnaise, ketchup, peanut butter, vanilla, and salad dressings, etc).
    We stock lots an lots of taco seasoning and summer sausage spice mix.

    1. Can you offer more specifics on summer sausage spice mix? For that matter a made-from-scratch mix would do.
      My search continues. Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.

      1. Tom,
        Yavapai Exceptional Industries sells a delicious summer sausage spice mix called Grandma LaMure’s Spice-N-Slice. It can be mixed with ground beef, venison, etc. they will ship anywhere. YEI is a charitable organization that provides employment for adults with disabilities.

  15. Baking powder is double acting.
    Baking soda & cream of tartar is single acting.

  16. Baking powder has aluminum in it. Rumford does not , but unable to find it now… still not on shelves… have some . If you can use milk, can use buttermilk and soda. it works… baking soda and cream of tartar does work and ept separate they store indefinitely.

  17. Favs.. Vanilla,and Lemon EXTRACT,…Onion, garlic, celery powders.. pink salt, kosher and canning salt. (we don’t use enough to boost iodine and take supplement for iodine.) NO SALT or Nu-salt,..
    .Leaf’s…bay,basil, parsley, celery,chives, green onion (tops)
    ….cinnamon, nutmeg,cloves and allspice.(ground and whole) pickling spice (mix)…dry mustard,celery seed,cream of tartar,
    … we also keep-for occasional use:paprika..ginger, rosemary, black pepper ,hot sauce ,teriyaki ,and low sodium soy. +some type of creole seasoning…

    1. bought any vanilla extract lately? CRAZY price for very little. I make my own vanilla extract, and it is easy and fairly cost effective. I use three different alcohols…just for fun. Kraken Rum makes the darkest tastiest extract. Wild Turkey at 140 proof or 100 proof vodka works great too. Cut the beans open, place into alcohol and wait (shake weekly). depending on how much bean to alcohol ration for time to extract. I keep mine in a darker area of the shelving and shake regularly. delicious.

        1. Try Indri vanilla. They also have a co-op on face book where they do mass orders when enough people are interested in ordering…average $10 per ounce if I remember. Vanilla bean co-op.

  18. In addition to spices, I will also buy and keep on hand: mixes for making sauces like ranch dressing, spaghetti sauce mix which can be added to tomato paste and water. Your favorite chili mix unless you always make chili from scratch. My wife and I are both working so I find the pre-mixed ingredients within these mixes to be very convenient. The downside is their expiration date is relatively short but, having them on hand is mighty handy and encourages me to practice rotation of food and spices. Yes, I know fresh ranch dressing is a luxury but if you have finicky children and you are trying to make them eat vegetables, use whatever tools or condiments you have on hand.

  19. We have packets for things like taco seasoning, enchilada sauce and the like. Lately, I’ve been reading the ingredients on those packets and getting the individual spices to make our own. The packets don’t last as long as the individual spices that are in them, when stored well. I’d add bay leaves, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, whole peppercorns and herb de provence to the list – we use a lot of those. For spices we use a lot of, I’ll buy in bulk from Rose Mountain Herbs or sometimes Frontier and break them down into glass jars to store. It’s a lot cheaper that way. Lately, I’ve been buying yellow mustard seed from the bulk section; we have some homemade mustard recipes that are really good, and can be made as needed.

    1. Farmgirl
      In my collection of ‘stuff’ are books on how to make the package spices we use every day from the spices in your cabinet. Found them on e bay, but I do not recall the titles, so give me some time. These books(2)will be great when the other is no longer available.

    2. Farmgirl
      “More Make-A-Mix-Cookery” by Karine Eliason. It takes basic ingredients and then shows how to create other dishes(spice packets) with the basic start. Reminds me of when yeast is being added to flour to make bread.

      1. I have one of her books (probably recommended by AC) and it has been very helpful for me. It was only available used and was really cheap.

      2. AC, Thank you for the info! I’ll check alibris and see if they have that one. Positive of making your own is no undesirable ingredients hiding in there. So many of the packets have msg under “yeast extract”, “spices”, and such.

      3. Also check out “Cooking Alaskan” Alaska Northwest Pub. Co. 1983. There is a chapter on master mixes. Available thru the Inter-Library System.
        Search on internet for UAF Cooperative extension. The publication “Make your own Mix” publication # FNH-00060. Can send for a hard copy or view online. Very extensive & includes recipes.

  20. A spice is the seed, fruit, root, bark etc. of a plant. Salt therefore isn’t a spice.

    1. Amanda C-W,
      Salt is necessary for life, therefore i suggest you stock it in as many forms as you will use it…whether you consider it a staple, a basic element(NaCl), or what use you would use it for. cooking, preserving meats, canning, making ice cream or melting ice.

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