Dried spices offer robust flavor, convenience and a long shelf life when stored and handled properly. According to McCormick, ground spices can retain their flavor for two to three years. The life of whole spices can range from three to four years. Heat, moisture and direct sunlight can affect the flavor, color and aroma of spices. To get the most flavor and longest shelf life out of spices, you must take steps to keep moisture away from your spices.
Store spices in a container with a tight seal. Immediately after using your spices, close the lid tightly. Do not allow open spices to set out on counter tops or other surfaces.
Place spice containers in a dry, dark area such as a pantry or cabinet. Do not store spices above the stove, near the dishwasher or sink, in the freezer or in any other area prone to moisture, humidity or condensation.
Avoid adding spices into a steaming pot or pan directly from the container. Instead, sprinkle spices into a spoon or bowl to prevent moisture from getting into the spice container. Never use a moist spoon or wet utensil to measure out spices from the container.
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Based in Texas, Elizabeth Smith has been writing since 1998. She has written manuals, course materials, technical guides and reports covering topics such as application development and deployment, design patterns, Web services, security, software installation and OS configuration. Smith has also written family health, home and travel articles for Trails, eHow, and AnswerBag.