General Question

sjg102379's avatar

Do spices have an expiration date? What about baking powder and soda?

Asked by sjg102379 (1207 points ) September 3rd, 2007

I’m cleaning out my kitchen; should I throw out spices that are more than a few years old?

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9 Answers

ezraglenn's avatar

Spices generally begin losing their flavor (or changing flavor) a few months after they are exposed to air. However, most people don’t notice the flavor difference for a while. If spices are more than a year or two old, chuck ‘em.

gooch's avatar

I agree they loose flavor over time. It is recomended after one year toss them. They will not make you sick. If you decide to keep them you will have to use more and amount needed comes in to question. Using too much or too little could ruin you dish. On the issue of sodas they have an expiration date on the bottle or can. Once again it won’t make you sick it just may taste bad after the date.

gailcalled's avatar

You can use baking soda as a green abrasive (in place of cleanser) long after you have stopped putting it in yr choc. chip cookie batter.

zina's avatar

different spices probably age differently too—for instance nuts go rancid fairly quickly, especially when not refrigerated, though we commonly eat them that way (it’s actually carcinogenic)— i wonder if some spices also become not just less tasty, but actually rotten or harmful?

skfinkel's avatar

I heard recently on a radio program that all spices should be thrown out after a year. Perhaps this was suggested by a person who sells spices. I do know that I have one spice, whole cloves, that I bought over 30 years ago, and they still seem fine. I think it was 30 cents for a jar of them. But I have been eying some of my aging spices with a far more critical look, and I think those like oregano are certainly going to be tossed on a more regular basis.

gailcalled's avatar

Susan; 30 years! I knew you guys weren’t into heavy spring cleaning but…wow! Jab cloves into lemons and oranges to make pomanders if time is hanging heavy.

gcross's avatar

Spices DO lose their oils and flavor relatively quickly and should be discarded after a few months. My husband, a professional cook, seldom buys prepackaged spices. He either grows his own or purchases them in very small quantities at small, open-air markets.

Garlic can be kept for long periods of time. And nobody should have to go without or buy it after they start getting a harvest. Buy a good quality type and split the cloves. Plant them and nurture them. It takes about 11 months to reach maturity, and the bulb does not develop until the leaves begin to wither. Practice will teach you when to harvest. Once you harvest, leave the plants outdoors for a few days or a couple weeks, in order to dry thoroughly – too high a moisture content, when you take them indoors for storage, and they will rot. Store them in a container that does not sweat, such as paper or cardboard. It doesn’t have to be sealed, and will lend a nice garlicky fragrance to your kitchen if the container is left open. Save one or more of the bulbs and replant. Garlic will also help protect certain food plants from insect predation.

Also, to help preserve oils and naturally oily foods in the refrigerator, add vitamin E. It acts as an emulsifier and slows down the onset of rancidity. Just take a gelcap, puncture it and squeeze it into the liquid or onto the seeds, etc. Or purchase a liquid supplement and add a few drops.

xxxciter's avatar

I say keep using them…just use MORE! (also, ones which you want to have on hand, but don’t use frequently could be stored in your freezer)

justmesuzanne's avatar

Spices lose flavor and potency over time, and baking powder can go flat and cease to work. Keeping them in your freezer is a good idea, if you don’t use them often.

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