Are There Dangers Lurking in Your Spice Rack?


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So there you are, happily cooking away in your kitchen, when you realize you want to add a little spice to your meal; you reach for that small container and it suddenly hits you, just how old is that container? Not only can you not remember when you bought it, but it doesn’t appear to have an expiration date on the label. Do spices expire? Do they go bad? Can using them after their “best by” date be harmful?

Spices and dried herbs can add a much needed touch of flavor to our cooking (Read important tips for veggie cooking). Sometimes a simple combination of spices and/or herbs can make a world of difference when it comes to the taste and flavor of our foods. Let’s take a look at your spice rack and what you should know about it.

    • Perhaps one of the best ways to get the most out of your spice rack is to store them properly to begin with.  Never keep them above or near your stove as; although this might seem like the most convenient spot, the heat will degrade its quality. You should also keep them away from the humidity of the dishwasher. You might have heard the old advice that you should keep your spices in the refrigerator but that’s another big no-no. Condensation and humidity will be present every time you open that container and it’s bound to be transferred to the spices. Also, be sure you put spices in your hand or in a measuring spoon before placing them in the pot on the stove. If you shake directly from the bottle into your pot or pan, the spices will also pick up the steam and heat from the stovetop.
    • The good news is that, if your spice or herb has a “eat by” or “best by” date, it’s generally just a guide to let you know that the spice will most likely lose its potency, but it will still be safe to consume. If your spice doesn’t have one of these dates on the label (or if you can’t read it) make your own “expiration date” list. Write the date you bought the spice on a 3×5 card and hang it inside a kitchen cabinet door.

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