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How Long It Is Safe To Use Spices? What About Their Expiry Date?

By Author: Jorge Martin
Total Articles: 191

What are spices?

A spice is a dried fruit, seed, bark, root, or vegetable substance primarily used for flavoring, preserving, garnishing, or coloring food. These are the aromatic parts of tropical plants. Some of the substances we call spices come from are the bark or roots of certain plants, but the majority are berries, seeds, or dried fruits. Mainly spices have the short lives depending on their type. Thus after a certain time period it is not safe to use spices.

Why Spices have a very short shelf life?

The shelf life of a spice is measure of the concentration of steam volatile oil. The higher the percentage, the longer the spice will last.

This oil remains in spices for a good period of time, from three to five years. Once the spices are grind, the cell walls are broken up, and the oil begins to dissipate. So we can say the general rule of thumb for ground spices is one year. After that it leads to the spices expiry date.

Different opinions which is correct?

The government recommendations for freshness of spices are four years for whole spices and two years for ground. But you must have heard people saying that spices must be replaced every six months. But most these are only harvested once a year, so it certainly doesn't make sense to replace them after every six months.

If spices are kept according to above categorization the shelf life would be as follows:

Whole spices flowers and leaves can be kept for 1 to 2 years.

Seeds will be kept for 2 to 3 years and roots can be kept for 3 years.

Ground spices leaves can be kept for 1 year.

Ground roots can be kept for 2 years.

Thus it is highly recommended to use spices to safe date or span of time up to which they cast the same taste and flavor to the food.

How can one find whether the spices are old?

Smell and taste are the main fundamental factors that could tell how long it is safe to use spices. Fortunately, old spices will not make anyone sick, as they don't carry any of the harmful ingredients which make them worse. Old spices will just stop delivering the flavor.

How important is smell in figuring out freshness?

Spices have a long lasting smell. It's something that does come naturally with them. A spice which tastes and smells both are equally responsible for determining its freshness. If you enter any spice shop and you hardly feel any of the aromatic smell then you are for sure at wrong place. Spices which lose their smell content are at the risk of getting expired.

How to Maximize Freshness?

Whole spices maintain their freshness for longer time than those of grounded one. If stored in airtight bottles, they will last for long. Spices and herbs do not spoil but they do lose their strength and taste.

There are three most important checks to use while verifying freshness:

1. Look: A visual check for color fading is a good indicator of flavor loss.

2. Smell: It is another indicator for verifying the quality of the spices.

3. Taste. Most of the spices taste specifies their existing properties.

Thus being the most important part for the Indian kitchen these spices need to be protected and replaced from time to time after their specific shell lives and to use spices to safe date.


Read about Cheesy Garlic Bread Sticks Recipe. Also know Pepper Ranch Roasted Potatoes Recipe. Read about Whipped Strawberry Icebox Cake Recipe.

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