SPICE STORAGE by Vickie Kline

With the weather turning chilly and holidays just around the corner, are you in the mood to cook and bake? I certainly am. In checking my supplies though, I noticed I had a couple of spices that had lost their color and aroma. I can’t say how long I’d had them in the drawer, so decided to do some research on storing spices properly before replacing them.

Here’s what I learned:

General information: Spices naturally have a protective cell structure to help them last a long time. Spices that are whole or dried will last for many years. Once ground, they become more fragile, but if stored properly will still retain an adequate shelf life of six months to one year.

Storage guidelines:

1. Keep away from heat: In other words, spices shouldn’t be stored next to your stove, an outside wall, or any high heat source. The adequate storage temperature should be no higher than 68 F.

2. Keep cool: If possible, cold storage is recommended at 32 – 45 F, particularly for spices where volatile oil and/or aromas are important attributes. At 70 – 80 F, a spice such as paprika will lose about 1% of its color every 10 days. Cold storage also protects against infestation and rancidity in the fixed oils in items such as sesame and poppy seeds.

3. Keep it dry: Spices shouldn’t be stored in close proximity to a laundry room or anywhere there is high humidity. To keep spices dry, 60% relative humidity is as high as you should go.

4. Keep away from light: Spices such as paprika, parsley flakes, and chives are sensitive to direct sunlight or fluorescent exposure.

I’m now thinking it’s best to purchase spices according to what I will use within 6 to 8 months. Otherwise, there is risk of them going bad.

Enjoy the holidays and share lots of good food items! They’ll be even better with fresh, aromatic spices…

Strive to be healthy!

Information courtesy of Canadian Spice Association

Image courtesy of Morocco Spices

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