Herbs & Spices

I finished some cinnamon recently, ordered fresh, and learned just how much more potent spices can be when they are fresh. Wow! I hadn’t realized how much I had increased the quantity of cinnamon I added to my smoothie over time. And that first smoothie with the fresh cinnamon was pretty much undrinkable as it was so strong. Lesson learned. (If you prefer to watch video, scroll to the bottom of this post. )

Today’s challenge is to go through your herbs and spices and compost any that are no longer fragrant. Also, ask yourself:

  • When was the last time you used a spice?
  • Will you use it in the future?
  • Did you like it?

Even if a spice still smells good, if you’re not using it, it’s taking up space in your drawer or cupboard.

Dried herbs and spices go stale over time. Spices that are ground generally last about six months to one year. You can trust your nose as the best test for the freshness of herbs and spices. If the spices don’t smell fragrant, it’s time to toss them into the compost. (Containers can be recycled.)

Whole seeds, however, are good for upwards of five or six years, if you’re so inclined to grind your own spices. Then you can grind a small amount at a time. I grind some of my own and it’s completely worth it for the fresh taste.

Spices like a cool, dark, dry spaces. So avoid a drawer or cupboard positioned near the stove, oven, sink or dishwasher, or above the kettle and coffeemaker. You want to avoid humidity. Glass or ceramic containers are among the best options for keeping spices and herbs fresh.

Moving forward, don’t get caught up in Costco big bottle bargains if it’s a spice or herb you don’t use often. You’re better off to buy in smaller amounts to maintain freshness. Or buy the whole seeds and grind them yourself. To save time, grind enough for a small jar, that you think you’ll use within four to six months.

Some of you may have questions about storing herbs and spices in the freezer. I did some research on this and honestly, the jury is out. It’s a mixed bag of recommending freezer storage to lengthen the life of your herbs and spices, versus the risk of condensation affecting your spices when your remove them from the freezer and thus risking bacteria growth. I’ve decided to err on the side of not using my freezer as the risk of bacteria makes more sense to me.

I welcome your ideas, thoughts, and questions in the comments below.

Remember you can share your journey with me and others by using hashtag #MarchMicroMinimizing, and tag me on Facebook or Instagram using handle @suzannegouldenILC.

Here’s me talking about herbs and spices!

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