How long to keep spices for? Optimum shelf life of spices chart
Spices do not last forever and start to become stale after some time. This once glance shelf life of spices chart will help you know when is a good time to toss stale spices and keep your spice drawer in check.
Do you wonder if seasonings go bad? How long do you keep spices before throwing away old and expired spices even if they do not look bad or you have hardly ever used them?
The short answer is Yes, you should.
There is an optimal shelf life of spices, and they are best used before they start loosing their freshness. The chart below suggests the recommended shelf life of spices to get the best of their flavours.
Do Spices Go Bad?
Once opened, spices tend to gradually loose their flavour, if not properly stored or used within a certain time.
This is because spices are made of aromatic volatile oils that is released when they come in contact with air or heat.
The interesting point to note is that out of date spices do not show visual signs of deterioration such as mold, rotten, or bad smell like regular fresh/stored food products.
This makes it difficult to understand when spices go bad.
However some spices can grow salmonella or minuscule white insects over time. Apart from this there is an optimal flavour life and hence there is an expiration date of spices on packs.
So in short, spices do go bad and need to be used or thrown away if too old.
This post shares tips on how to store spices and reuse old or stale spices.
How Long Can You Keep Spices?
Now that we know that spices do not last forever , the question is:
When do you throw away spices or how long do spices last?
Most people, blogs and chefs will recommend using spices withing 6 months from the date of opening.
But lets get real. How many of us homecooks actually do that?!
Baring a few OCD’s I believe most of us continue to use spices even if they may have been bought ages ago.
Not only do we NOT throw the spices but few also choose to ignore the expiration date and continue to use spices.
Now, there are health repercussions as you can get sick from eating old spices so I would be careful when using expired spices.
The spice shelf life chart below is a rough guide on the optimal flavour life of spices. I would highly recommend to take into account any visual, smell or flavour deterioration even if the chart recommends a certain shelf life period.
Here is the recommended time frame on how long you can keep spices for:
Shelf Life of Spices Chart Of Most Used Spices
This ultimate list of spices shelf life chart can be followed as a recommendation as long as the spices are properly stored.
Please do check the pack/jars for signs of contamination and the expiration date before using.
The chart includes the most popularly used spices, herbs and seasonings. So if I am missing a few, follow the suggested shelf life chart of spices and herbs above.
You can also click on the name of spices/herbs in orange to know more about the spice and their uses in cooking.
|All spice||2-3 year||2 – 3 years|
|Amchoor (Dry mango powder)||3-4 years||3-4 years|
|Aniseed||2-3 years||2-3 years|
|Apple pie spice||1-2 years||2-3 years|
|Asafoetida||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Baharat Seasoning||2-3 years|
|Basil||4 – 5 days||1-2 years|
|Bayleaves||2-3 years||1 week|
|Black cardamom||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Black pepper||2-3 years||6 months|
|Cajun spice||1- 2 years|
|Caraway seeds||2-3 years|
|Cardamom (Black)||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Cardamom (Green)||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Coriander||2-3 years||6 -12 months||5 days||6 -12 months|
|Cinnamon||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Cloves||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Cumin||2-3 years||6 -12 months|
|Curry powder||6 -12 months|
|Dill||6 -12 months||5 days|
|Fennel||2-3 years||6 -12 months|
|Fenugreek||3-4 years||1- 2 years||2-3 years||7 days|
|Five spice (Chinese)||1- 2 years|
|Garlic||1- 2 years||2-3 years||1 month|
|Ginger||1- 2 years||1 month|
|Garam Masala||6 -12 months|
|Harissa Spice blend||6 -12 months|
|Herbes de Provence||6 -12 months|
|Italian Herb Seasoning||6 -12 months|
|Jerk Seasoning||6 -12 months|
|Kaffir Lime Leaves||6 -12 months||7 days (frozen 12 months)||6 -12 months|
|Mace||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Mint||6 months||7 days (frozen 3 months)||6 months|
|Mustard||3-4 years||1-2 years|
|Marjoram||2 weeks||6 -12 months|
|Nigella Seeds||2-3 years|
|Nutmeg||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Onion Powder||1-2 years|
|Parsley||1 week||6 months|
|Poppy seeds||2-3 years|
|Panch Phoron||2-3 years|
|Ras El Hanout||6 -12 months|
|Rosemary||2 weeks||6-12 months|
|Saffron||1-2 years||6 months|
|Sage||1 week||6-12 months|
|Sesame Seeds||2- 3 years|
|Star Anise||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Sumac Spice||2-3 years||1-2 years|
|Taco Seasoning||6-12 months|
|Tandoori Spice||6-12 months|
|Thyme||1-2 years||2-3 years||1-2 weeks|
|Turmeric||4-5 years||1-2 years||1 month||4-5 years|
|Zaatar Spice||6-12 months|
|Wasabi||1-2 years||1 month||1-2 years|
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We have a tendency to hoard spices and enjoy looking at our collection regardless of whether we use them or not.
Sadly, these little pride and joy of the kitchen called spices do become old and stale and loose their liveliness if left for too long.
If you have spices in your pantry then do remember that spice DO go bad and start to loose their potency after a certain period.
It is a good idea to take stock and clean up your spice cupboard once in a while. Spices are known to be health and flavour boosters. It is perhaps not doing much if they have been lying around for too long just watching you.
They will be fresh and happy if you get through them in a timely regular fashion.
If you are looking to buy fresh organic spices my recommended store is The Spice House. Click here to discover the world of flavors at TheSpiceHouse.com.