Spices are relatively expensive.
We all know that spices lose their flavour and potency as time goes by, even when they are stored in airtight containers.
Every time you open a spice container, air gets in and the spice reacts with it and loses a bit more of its strength.
So how do you keep your spices fresh?
If you make your own ground spice from seeds, then you should try to only make enough powder to last a month of your normal usage.
You can usually keep ground spices for up to three months but I always try to replace them after a month. But you don’t want to throw spices away because they are relatively expensive – try to use them.
Keeping spice seeds for too long is as bad as keeping the ground spice for too long. The seeds last longer than the ground powder but they still go stale.
Whether you buy seeds or ground spices, you should not buy really large amounts unless you know you are going to use them before they go stale. Even if a large pack of spice is a bargain, you don’t want to have to throw them away because they’ve lost their effectiveness.
Where possible, always buy spices in airtight containers.
My local supermarket sells 25-30 grams (1 oz) jars of spices and I can buy almost any type of spice that I need.
But my local Indian shop sells a wider range of spices in small plastic bags with each bag having about 120 grams (4 oz) of spice. And the spices cost less than buying the same amount from the supermarket.
I use some spices quicker than others. So I buy my ground turmeric, cumin, garam masala and chilli powders in plastic bags from my local Indian shop and put them into empty jars that I have kept. I never throw away a glass jar once it has been emptied – I wash it out and keep it in the back of the cupboard ready to reuse. I’ve got a supply of labels so I can write what’s in the jars. My current collection of jars has ground cumin, turmeric, cardamom pods, fenugreek seeds, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
Store your spices in a dark dry cupboard. Don’t allow water or moisture to get into the spice containers. When measuring a spice into a teaspoon, always do it away boiling water or steam coming out of the ingredients that are cooking. And make sure that the teaspoon is dry when scooping a spice out of a container.
To recap. Buy in quantities that will last between one and three months. Keep the spices in airtight containers. Store the containers in a dark dry place. And don’t let moisture get into your spices.
If you follow these simple steps, you’ll get the most from your spices.