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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Great Spice Debate

Is it really true that you should replace your spices every six months? We've never done this, because it would cost a fortune. Also, we've found that although some spices lose their zing after a few years, others hold up just fine for a very long time. We moved a container of crushed red pepper flakes from San Francisco to Sonoma County to Oakland to Connecticut, and those flakes packed a punch right up to the end.

Salon addressed this issue a few days ago, and it's worth reading. The author not only delves into the six-month question but gives excellent tips for getting the most out of your spice investment. In a nutshell: buy them whole, and grind them as you need them. Ground spices give up the flavor ghost much sooner than their whole counterparts, because their essential oils dry up.

"Buy whole" is good advice, and we try to do that. Overall, though, we hang onto our spices as long as we can and replace them as we need to.


  1. Buy whole is a good idea but I love so many variations that they don't always come whole! And sometimes you just run out of I'll replace when color and flavor fades....

  2. I'm with you - for the most part, I think the 6-month thing is nonsense. (Probably started as McCormick's marketing strategy to get you to buy new spices more often...) Some things, though, like curry, do seem to lose their zing more quickly than others. I've taken to buying things like that in little bags at my coop, intead of big bottles, so I only have as much as I'll use in a reasonable amount of time.

  3. You can revitalize curry by toasting it a bit.