23467529 - fresh black pepper (studio shot)Do you know how to tell when the spices in your pantry should be thrown out? It’s a common misconception that spices don’t ever go bad. But they do!

While your spices won’t spoil (or go “bad”) and make you sick, they can and do lose flavor over time. Spices that are past their prime can even taste worse, and will spoil a recipe if you cook with them because the food won’t turn out — or worse, might just taste wrong. That’s not something you want to eat, or share with guests.

So, how do you know if your spices have gone bad? Here are three things to know:

  • Use your good judgement. Spices should have good color, a strong smell, and taste the way you’d expect. If it doesn’t taste like much of anything, then the spice is liking not worth keeping.
  • Give it the time test. Most spices should be replaced after three years — at most. (That’s a long time!) Same goes for dried herbs, incidentally. Ground spices lose their flavor faster than whole ones do. Can you remember when you bought it? It’s probably too old.
  • Location, location, location: where were your spices stored? If they’ve been in the back of the pantry, or exposed to light or heat, that’s not a great place to be. Heat, light and damp conditions all spoil spices.

As with most things, when it doubt throw it out. A bonus tip would be to try to organize your spices, if you can, in a way that helps you to remember what you have and use them more frequently. Then you end up throwing away fewer items.

And if you need new spices, or just have questions, please be sure to stop by, call us for a chat, or book a special tasting at Oil & Vinegar Junction, in Park City. We love great spices, and we look forward to sharing with you!