General Question

free2bme's avatar

Expiration dates for spices?

Asked by free2bme (7points) December 18th, 2009

Are there any charts that show the expiration dates for specific spices?

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10 Answers

NUNYA's avatar

If there is one, I’ve never used it as a guide.

SarasWhimsy's avatar

A good rule of thumb is to replace them after a year after they’ve first been opened. However, I have some spices that I only use for the holidays and I’ve now had them almost three years, and they’re perfectly fine. I think it depends on the frequency of use. Keep them in a low humid and dark environment too.

fireinthepriory's avatar

Hahahahahaha I first read this as expiration dates for species.

I don’t think they ever really expire, per se – as in make you sick. The flavor will change after a while though. I generally sniff em and decide based on whether they smell right or not. Or if they’re like 5 years old then I chuck them.

dpworkin's avatar

Usually you will find such information on the container. I try to replace anything that is not whole (such as whole nutmeg or cinnamon) about once a year. I also try to use fresh herbs and whole spices when possible. Whole spices can be ground in a cheap electric coffee grinder, and the results are much more satisfactory, especially if they are lightly toasted in an iron pan before grinding.

JLeslie's avatar

I know I keep mine too long, but I have never become sick (I have had some for more than 3 years). I would think they lose flavor over time though.

EdMayhew's avatar

It really depends on the spice. Dried chilli, for instance, will keep for much longer than saffron but generally spices are edible for years. This is a bit of a red herring however, for once ground/processed spices will rapidly lose their colour and flavour. I would say buy them whole when you can, for instance but whole corainder seeds, cumin seeds etc. then grind them as you need them in a pestle and mortar for small quantities or, as @pdworkin says a coffee grinder for larger amounts. This way they will retain their flavour for longer.

Also bear in mind that whilst the spices may stay edible for a long time, the insects and other such things that may have contaminated them in the time they’ve been sitting in a box in the cupboard may not be, so if you are considering using anything that’s been at the back of the shelf since time immemorial check it thoroughly for creepy crawlies/bits of brad or other foodstuffs that may have gotten into the box and gone bad.


thriftymaid's avatar

They seem to stay good for a long time. Usually, if they still have a strong scent I use them. If they have changed color I throw them out.

gailcalled's avatar

After a year, dried spices taste similar to dried hay. If you are accustomed to fresh herbs and spices, the dried stuff tastes like fodder immediately.

Ghost_in_the_system's avatar

If you have whole spices, you can keep it about 3 years. Ground spices usually dry out and loose their flavor after about a year. When the oils dry up they need to be replaced.

birdland33's avatar

Rule of thumb for expiration dates: If it says USE BY, then it will probably spoil. If it says BEST BY, it will probably lose potency.

You will find out when you taste it whether or not you have held onto them too long.

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