A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark or vegetative substance used as a food additive for the purpose of flavoring. I’m sure you all know that. But I’m sure many of you have spices on your shelf that you rarely use. Then a recipe comes along and you question if the spices are still good. I’ve provided some information on the shelf life of spices and herbs below.

Ingredient Shelf Life

Ground Spices 2-3 years

Whole Spices 3-4 years

Seasoning Blends 1-2 years

Herbs 1-3 years

Extracts 4 years, except pure vanilla, which lasts forever

Still not sure, then use these guidelines:

Check to see that the color of your spices and herbs is vibrant. If the color has faded, chances are so has the flavor.

Rub or crush the spice or herb in your hand. If the aroma is weak and flavor is not apparent, it’s time to replace it.

Store herbs and spices in a tightly capped container, and keep away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. Replace bottle lids tightly immediately after use.

To minimize moisture and caking, use a dry measuring spoon and avoid sprinkling directly into a steaming pot.

Check the freshness date on the container.