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Old 10-20-2008, 12:20 AM   #1
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One big problem if you like to cook various cuisines -- AND your friends are only so adventurous -- AND you don't want spices lingering on your shelf for a decade or three. Well, it gets rather frustrating. I gave up on keeping all the Indian spices and keep a few, but rather use some packaged meals that a Pakistani/English couple recommended. AND I've been frustrated all around. You have to buy more spice than you need for a meal or two, or you have to settle for a lesser quality of spice. My friends (remember, I live in small town midwest) think I'm rather odd for having as many spices as I have on hand.

I was raised to believe that paprika was only something you tossed on top of certain dishes for color, because it had no flavor. Well, yeah, it didn't in those days. At least not the stuff my Mom sprinkled, but she was using what was available at the time.

Seriously, I have to ask you, if you have a spice on your shelf for more than, say, 6 mos, do you really just trash it, or do you smell it, taste it, and go with it. Because I'm getting tired of being told by every TV chef that I should throw away every spice in my cabinet over a year old. I'd have to just buy a spice and throw the rest away after one use, because I truly love to cook different ethnic cuisines.


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Old 10-20-2008, 04:39 AM   #2
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I have a ton of spices, as well. I keep them for a long time. Usually, smell and taste before I even think about tossing them. Dried herbs are another matter, though. they do seem to lose flavor a lot sooner than spices. I try to use fresh when I can, and buy the smallest possible amount when I have to buy dried herbs.

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Old 10-20-2008, 07:30 AM   #3
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I'm in the same situation. My kids loved the ethnic cuisines and our meals varied weekly. They have grown and left the "nest", visiting only a couple times a year. MY DH is a meat-taters-gravy guy, ugh. He won't try anything new so my fun cooking has changed to boring cooking! I had an entire cupboard filled with spices, three full shelves and a bit of spill over into another one. They are now in freezer bags in the freezer. I bag them alphabetically so I can find what I want quickly. Sometimes I just get a craving for ginger, red pepper hummus or a tagine! Freezing the dried/fresh herbs and spices doesn't seem to alter the flavor for me so you might try that to extend their shelf life. Good luck.
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Old 10-20-2008, 07:34 AM   #4
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I most certainly do not just trash my spices after 6 months and I think it is ridiculous that TV chefs are always saying that. Often times spices can last much longer than that, and even when they don't it is not like the go from having favor to having none overnight. It is a gradual change as they lose potency so if your spices are a bit old you may just need to use a little more than you originally thought. There does come a point when they do need to be trashed as they have little to no flavor anymore, but when that happens depends on so many different factors that you need to smell and taste to figure it out.
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:24 AM   #5
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TV chefs can say that cuz they are making the big bucks! ;)

Spices cost too much to toss simply on a date basis.
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Old 10-20-2008, 09:52 AM   #6
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I have spices in my pantry that are "many" years old and I still use them. Yes, I know that some have lost a lot of their punch, but most of my cooking is not that critical for the 'punch'. If you keep them in tightly sealed containers away from the heat they will last a reasonable length of time. It is up to your own tastes how often a spice gets updated.
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Old 10-20-2008, 10:10 AM   #7
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I always do the sniff/taste before using older dried herbs/spices. I'd never toss anything based simply on someone else's say so.
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Old 10-20-2008, 01:07 PM   #8
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I would say it will depend on the spice, and how and where it is stored. Ground spices will deteriorate faster, as they are exposed to the air/moisure more. Whole spices will last longer, and if you can grind your own on demand, this would be the better option. Watch for µorganism growth, loss of flavour and colour. If kept on shelves, store in jars with elastomer seals, out of direct sunlight. Never open jars oven a cooking dish.
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Old 10-21-2008, 05:57 AM   #9
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I've always revolted against authority and been labeled as a "Non-Conformist" because I was given the gift of free will and a brain that allows me to use it. Just because someone says you must do this or that, doesn't mean I'm gonna do it. It's not their decision to make, on what I do.

I store my spices in a dark cabinet, away from heat, in the coolest part of the kitchen. My nose still works pretty good, so I give a spice a good sniff and I can tell if it still has aroma. If it passes the sniff test, I'll give it a taste. If it still tastes like "ABC" spice I'll use it and if it doesn't I'll trash it and remind myself not to buy as much next time. If you purchase your spices from a purveyor that sells good fresh spices and store them correctly, they will last quite a while. There are several companies out there that have built good reputations because they supply potent spices that stay fresh a long while. Deal with a known source and your spices will stay fresh much longer than six months.
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Old 10-21-2008, 07:22 AM   #10
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I don't trash spices after 6 months just because someone says to do it. If my spices smell fine and still has some potency , it is used.

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