Air, light, moisture and heat speed flavor and color loss of herbs and spices.
Use the following guidelines to help preserve the quality of your herbs.
And...always buy a smaller container for your herb storage until you determine how fast you'll use a particular herb or spice. You can always go larger.
Preserving and Storing Herbs
You may dry or freeze herbs for later use, if desired. On a sunny day after the dew dries, cut back herb plants by as much as half. To dry herbs, hang them upside down in a dark, airy, dry spot. They are dry when they are crisp. Store the dried herbs in opaque containers.
You can also freeze fresh herbs by placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer. They will freeze completely within 24 hours. Then store in well-sealed, labeled plastic bags. Do not pack leaves in a lump or they will be tough to separate later.
To store herbs and retain their flavor, mix two firmly packed cups of chopped or pureed herb leaves and stems in one-half up olive oil. Pack the mixture in airtight containers and freeze. Never store herbs packed in oil in the refrigerator. Unless frozen, the mixture can develop botulism.
- Store in a tightly covered container.
- Store in a dark place away from sunlight.
- Store away from moisture and prevent moisture from entering the container during use.
- Avoid storing near a dishwasher or sink. Remove from container with a dry spoon.
- Avoid sprinkling directly from container into a steaming pot to prevent steam moisture from entering the container.
- Do not store above the stove, dishwasher, microwave or refrigerator, or near a sink or heating vent.
- DO store inside a cupboard or drawer.
- For open spice rack storage, choose a site away from heat, light and moisture.
- Refrigerate paprika, chili powder and red pepper for best color retention, especially in summer or hotter climates.
- Herbs and spices can get wet if condensation forms when a cold container from your refrigerator or freezer is left open in a humid kitchen.
Follow these tips to help you use spices and herbs when flavor and quality are best:
As a general rule, keep herbs/spices:
- 1 year for herbs or ground spices
- 2 years for whole spices
Test For Freshness
If it smells strong and flavorful, it's probably still potent. To smell whole spices, such as peppercorns and cinnamon sas, crush or break them to release their aroma.
Initial quality will influence shelf life. Always label date of purchase on container with a permanent marking pen.
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