We keep a decent amount of spices in our long term storage. Why? Two reasons. One, it’s WAY CHEAPER to buy spices and herbs in bulk quantities. Two, it’s the prepper in me – keeping some extra for just-in-case.
The price markup on the grocery store spice rack is insane. How do I know? Well, once you’ve bought spices in bulk, you’ll know why! Those little spice jars (actually they’re mostly plastic) can cost as much as a big ‘ol bag of spices…
So you might reason, “I don’t buy spices in bulk because I’m afraid they’ll go bad before I get a chance to use them”. That’s a logical thought. However in many cases, the price you save will make up for it pretty quickly – even if you don’t use it all.
Therefore, a few questions…
- How long will spices last?
- What’s the best way to store spices for long term storage?
Spices may consist of dried seeds, fruit, roots, or bark of plants.
Herbs are considered leafy parts of plants used for the same purpose.
Most spices and herbs contain essential oils which are responsible for their flavors and aromas.
Spices and herbs come in several forms — fresh, whole dried, or dried and ground.
Why do spices go bad?
Most of the active ingredients in spices and herbs are plant oils.
Oils will eventually oxidize, resulting in a loss of flavor or even spoilage.
Because of this, and to minimize oxidation, spices and herbs should be stored in air tight containers for best results long term.
Long Term Spice Storage
First of all, let me say that I have stored various dry spices in their original packaging without issue. This will depend on the packaging (have you already opened it?). We keep some of our our extra and bulk spices in a plastic storage bin. Actually a few of them (medium sized). Stored cool-and-dry.
We have spices that are many years old, and they taste fine. Not sure how old our oldest is, but we might be looking at about 5 years.
Remember to rotate! Consume, rotate. First in, first out. Store what you eat and eat what you store…
Use a Vacuum Sealer Machine For Spices – Bags or Jar Sealer
There are two ways to use a vacuum sealer on spices for long term storage. Ordinary vacuum seal bags, and/or home canning jars with the jar seal attachment and hose.
We have a ‘FoodSaver’ model that we’ve had for years. It also has the accessory hose port to be used with a jar sealer attachment (which we later purchased).
However if you’re looking for a current economical and well-reviewed sealer, it would be the following…
>> Vacuum Sealer By NutriChef
(view on amzn)
Most vacuum sealers with an accessory port can handle the Food Saver hose. Additionally, you would need to purchase the regular mouth jar sealer and/or the wide mouth jar sealer to seal jars.
Spices or herbs stored in the freezer will last considerably longer provided they are packaged to prevent moisture from entering.
Storing spices or herbs in a hot environment will significantly shorten their quality shelf life, perhaps by as much as half…
How long will spices last?
There’s no clear answer. Spices will lose their potency (and aroma) over time. If they’re already ground, shelf life will be less than whole. Although if they’re well packaged, you could be fine for a considerable time. Better yet, vacuum-sealed will certainly add years more.
You tell me, how long have your spices remained potent? What methods of storage have you used?
Whole spices store the best. Why? Ground-up spices (and herbs) have a much shorter shelf life because they are exposed to air and will lose their quality much faster than the whole spice prior to being ground.
For best results, whole seasoning should be purchased and only crushed just prior to using. This is easily done with a mortar and pestle or everyday coffee grinder.
Once a year, it’s a good idea to check ground spices and herbs for freshness. If there is no apparent aroma then you might consider replacing the seasoning.
If stored for long periods, some of the potency will diminish – so just add more of that spice to compensate!
News Flash: You can grow some of your own too!