Do spices and herbs ever go bad? Contrary to popular belief and practice, they do indeed expire. They will stay fresh longer when stored in tightly capped containers and are kept away from heat, moisture and direct sunlight. Over time though, spices will lose their potency and not flavor your food as intended. For peak freshness, here are the suggested shelf lives of spice and herb categories:


Ground spices and blends (nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric): 4 to 8 months

Herbs (basil, oregano, parsley): 1 to 2 years

Whole spices (cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks): 4 years

Seeds: 4 years (except for poppy and sesame seeds, which should be discarded after 2 years)

Extracts: 4 years (except for vanilla, which will last forever)


Take a big whiff! Spices and herbs should be very fragrant. If you can't smell it, your spices are dull and without flavor from sitting around and will not give you the best results for cooking. Is it time to refresh your spice cabinet treasures? Fresh smelling spices and herbs attract all sorts of good company!

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